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Bay Times and Record Observer: Davis receives Helping Hands Award

GRASONVILLE — Family and friends gathered at the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department Thursday afternoon, Feb. 28, to see life member Justin Davis receive an award from the comptroller’s office for his dedication and service to Queen Anne’s County.

Comptroller Peter Franchot awarded Davis with the 2017 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for exemplifying “the very principles that William Donald Schaefer had for helping people during his 50 years of service in Baltimore, mayor, governor and comptroller,” Franchot said before presenting the award.

Davis, who has been a member of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department since the age of 14 and grew up four houses down from the fire station, thanked his friends, family and the “brotherhood” of the department.

“I would not be where I am today and doing what I do if I didn’t have all these great men and women by my side, and for that I am so beyond grateful,” Davis said.

The award was created to highlight the contributions of one individual per year from all Maryland counties, including Baltimore City, in their effort to build, strengthen and help their communities. The award goes to someone who best lives Schaefer’s commitment to helping people.

“I know there are many other worthy citizens and organizations who do great work in our communities,” Davis said. “The fact that you have recognized me is very special, and I will always be grateful for it.”

Like the two words “He Cared” on Schaefer’s gravestone, Franchot said, Davis has embodied that sentiment through his work as a volunteer firefighter, supply organizer and other acts, such as creating the First Light for First Responders nonprofit organization.

Officially established last year, First Light for First Responders is dedicated to providing resources and assisting all first responders and their families. Through partnerships with local businesses and government agencies, the operation has helped many individuals and organizations.

Franchot referenced how after Davis took supplies to New York first responders and their families after the 9/11 attacks he “realized he was on a mission to provide critical operational support and create innovative programs that could increase capacities for the first responders, handle disasters both natural and manmade.”

“Justin, I wish we all had the same moxie that you do,” Franchot said. “Not only saying something but actually doing it.” County Commissioners Mark Anderson, Jim Moran and Jack Wilson all gave congratulations to Davis for his recognition from the state and service he provides Queen Anne’s County.

Davis, along with other volunteers, have aided more than just Maryland citizens. Though only established a year ago, Davis’ efforts of altruism extend many years before the organization’s creation as he has collected and delivered food, clothing, and gift certificates, as well as helped people find housing and aided in general labor efforts in Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

But just because Davis has now been recognized for his work in the community doesn’t mean he is going to stop. When disaster strikes will he work to help those in need, he said, but he also aims to promote volunteerism in the community, honor the fallen and their legacies, and teach preparation and safety to the youth.

For more information about First Light for First Responders or to get involved, visit www.flfr.org.

Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.

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