Kingsport Times News Saturday, September 20, 2014
Local News

Washington County Rescue Services kicks off annual fund-raiser

April 4th, 2007 11:36 pm by KRISTEN SWING



With all the bogus requests for cash making their way into mailboxes these days, it's hard to sift through the junk to find the legitimate mail.


That concerns organizations like the Washington County Rescue Services, which depends entirely on fund-raising efforts to operate each year.


"Whatever we make is what we have," said WCRS Capt. Dan Wheeley. "We have to make due with what we raise."


From begging for spare change at roadblocks and outside businesses, to hosting car shows and open houses, members of the WCRS have done just about every type of fund-raiser out there to keep the organization afloat.


This year though, they're trying something new by banking on the U.S. Postal Service to help bring in the money.


The WCRS will mail out fund-raising requests to an estimated 35,000 property owners in Washington County. The first installment of 5,000 letters was sent out Wednesday.


"It's an easier way for us to contact everybody directly," Wheeley said. "We can give more information about what we do in writing compared to over the phone or at a roadblock."


But Wheeley still has some concerns, mostly because he knows what can happen to unsolicited letters.


"A lot of times if it's not got my name on it or it's not addressed to me, I throw it out without even opening it," Wheeley said. "But if everybody throws this in the trash, it'll just be wasted funds for us.


"I hope they at least take the time to open it up and read it. It has some good information about who we are and what we provide."


It takes an annual budget of about $15,000 to operate the WCRS, which provides specialty rescue services - a dive team, a medical team and a search and rescue team - throughout the county.


"We know we can survive on the $12,000 to $15,000, but we ideally would like to make three, four times that," Wheeley said. "As volunteers, our members are required to do a lot of training. A lot of that, they're having to pay for right now because we can't afford it. Plus, we have a lot of old and outdated equipment that needs to be replaced."


The WCRS, which was formed in 2000 and has an estimated 35 members on its roster, has logged more than 600 man-hours this year alone.


"Somebody is doing something just about every day," Wheeley said. "We do medical standbys at just about every event out at Winged Deer Park, we're getting ready to put our boat in the lake this year and then we'll be out on the lake every weekend."


While protecting area waterways, searching for lost hikers or treating overheated baseball fans can take up a good deal of time, WCRS members spend a significant portion of their volunteerism simply trying to keep the organization in the black.


"We spend as much time raising money as we do anything else. That's a real downer for people who come in here excited to volunteer," Wheeley said. "We're very busy the next few months with fund raising. Hopefully we can get the money we need. Then they can spend more time doing what they actually volunteered for - training and saving lives."


In addition to the mailings, the WCRS will be out at Wal-Mart on Browns Mill Road Friday and Saturday asking for financial donations and will host its Spring Fling open house on April 28 to garner more support.


For more information about the WCRS or how to donate, visit www.washcorescue.com


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