First responders, others fed as way to show thanks in midst of drug crisis

Published 8:12 am Friday, November 10, 2017

Kendra Peek/
Danville Police Chief Tony Gray and Kathy Miles, with the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy.

More than 150 people in emergency services were served a meal on Thursday during the first responders lunch, sponsored by the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy and the Hope Network.

“We want to thank our extended list of first responders for the work they do because of the drug crisis,” said Kathy Miles, director of the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy.

Miles said they invited the Danville Police Department and Danville Fire Department, the Boyle County Sheriffs Office, Boyle County EMS, Boyle County Emergency Management and Boyle County Fire Department.

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Beyond that, they extended the invitation to social workers, employees in the Department of Juvenile Justice and others, because they are also being impacted by the drug epidemic. This is the second year for a meal to be served, but last year’s was a dinner.

Kendra Peek/
Retired Danville Police Officer Chad Smith, left, shakes hands with Rat Durham, volunteer, at the first responders lunch hosted by the Hope Network and the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy.

“We decided this might be easier for people to bring (food) and get people while they’re working,” she said. “The timing turned out to be pretty good.”

Miles said it means a lot they didn’t have trouble getting a large amount of donations from the tons of churches and community members who wanted to help.

“We’re blessed to live in a community where people just say, ‘Yes,’ when you ask them to do something like this,” Miles said. “I had a couple of people tell me, ‘Yes, of course I want to do that, because they saved my life.’ For some people, this is so personal.”

Miles said there were a lot of leftovers, so those would be delivered to agencies.

Participants with the Shepherd’s House Intensive Outpatient Program attended the event as volunteers, specifically delivering food to groups who couldn’t make the meal.

Kendra Peek/
Dylan Ellis, James Hunn, Russell Evans, Desmond Brock and Michael Devine chat and eat during the first responders lunch Thursday. Ellis, Evans, Brock and Devine were some of the participants with the Shepherd’s House Intensive Outpatient Program volunteered at the lunch.

“I think it means a lot have them being here, showing everyone that people do recover, it is possible. (First responders) see people at their worst, then they get to come here and see some people that are doing well,” Miles said.

She said it was good for those from Shepherd’s House to attend, too, because they could become comfortable facing those who knew them in their past. Miles said the men from the center told her they were happy to have a chance to give back to the community, as they work through recovery.

“That is such a blessing – to be able to hear them say this and know that this program is making a real difference in lives,” she said.

Miles said she feels that being able to say “Thank you,” to those extended first responders is very important, not only to the ones receiving the thanks, but those giving the thanks.

Kendra Peek/
Rat Durham, volunteer, speaks to deputies of the Boyle County Detention Center.

“There’s nothing like being able to say thank you. We do it for them, but we get a blessing from doing it. That’s pretty neat.”

Right now, it’s extremely important to express that gratitude, Miles said, because so many of those who attended Thursday’s lunch are facing extra stress because of the proposed changes to their pension plans.

“In this room, there were people that, that’s the backdrop for them,” she said. “We extra extra should be saying, ‘We appreciate what you do,’ because we want to keep having good people in these roles.”

Kendra Peek/

Kendra Peek/
Boyle County Chief Deputy Chris Stratton speaks with Danville Police Detectives Kevin Peel and Lisa Dollins on Thursday.

Kendra Peek/