Our community is blessed with helpers

Published 7:28 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The search for James Jenkins showed us how fortunate we are.

Mr. Jenkins was the elderly man who decided Monday to walk out of Shady Lawn Nursing Home. The story of his search had a happy ending, and it showed the type of people we have in Warren County who are willing to give up their personal time to help a fellow human being.

Mr. Jenkins’ story had a familiar ring to me. Back many years ago when I was in college, my grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, walked out of a nursing home in Baton Rouge. She was picked up several hours later by two police officers who had her description and brought her back to the nursing home.

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They didn’t know my grandmother except from her description, but they took the extra effort to stop their patrol, pick her up and take her home.

The city’s police officers and firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and volunteer firefighters who searched for Mr. Jenkins didn’t know him, but his disappearance was an emergency, help was needed for a search, and they responded. The same is true for the volunteers from Madison, Rankin and Yazoo counties who responded to a call help from authorities here.

All of these people could have begged off; they could have said they were too busy to come help. The off-duty police officers, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies could have refused to give up their day off to search. The volunteer firefighters who are not paid to do what they do could have said they were too busy to join in the search for Mr. Jenkins.

Instead, they went to the staging areas and searched for an elderly man lost in the woods until late into the night and returned early the next morning to resume their search. That’s commitment and dedication to doing the right thing. It’s actions like that that people receive medals for.

But these men and women who participated in the search for Mr. Jenkins will not receive any medals. They’ll get a pat on the back from people and they’ll sleep better knowing they were able to help another person. They deserve medals, but they didn’t do what they did for a medal. They did it because it was the right thing to do — that’s true community service.

In my years as a reporter and editor, I’ve seen some of the worst someone can do to another person, and it’s been enough destroy my faith in man. Then I write something about volunteers getting out to fight a fire, save a life or find a missing person, and that faith’s restored.

We in Vicksburg and Warren County should be grateful we have neighbors around us who are willing to sacrifice their time to help our community in times of emergency and in time of need, and when we see them on the street or at events we should go up and shake their hand and tell them “thanks.” We may need them someday.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may email him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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