NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Lowcountry nonprofit organization is trying to respond to a greater need in the first responder community despite a decrease in funding.
The Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team was founded in 2007 after the Sofa Superstore Fire in West Ashley in which nine Charleston firefighters died.
The Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team founder and Executive Director Gerald Mishoe says they helps between 5,000 to 6,000 first responders every year as well as their family members. They now serve 23 counties. Their team consists of 81 peer team members and 22 mental health clinicians.
In the past 12 months, nearly all of the group’s fundraising efforts were called off over the last year because of the pandemic.
But the group is now working on events to raise funds. Mishoe says they also plan to bring on a new class for first responders called “Mind Response.”
This class, similarly to other services they offer, can serve a wide range of first responders, from firefighters to paramedics.
But Mind Response will specifically address they can serve other people and take care of themselves at the same time.
“Its an excellent program,” Mishoe said. “To be able to prepare people to do the work that we do.”
Mishoe says the pandemic was especially tough for first responders, with many of them coming in constant contact with the community and possibly being exposed on a daily basis, adding stress to an already stressful job.
This class, among others, can help to relieve that, he says.
“On a daily basis we relive a lot of tragic events with the folks that we’re helping,” Mishoe says. “And so we needed to build in a little bit more mindfulness and self care for the people that do the work, for the caretakers of the people out in the street.”
The organization will host a fundraiser Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at their headquarters at 6390 Dorchester Road in North Charleston. The event will include antique firetrucks on display and food plates will be $10. All proceeds will go to the Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team.
Muertos Coffee Company will also host an event on April 11 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to raise money specifically for the new class at Southern Roots, located at 1083 East Montague Ave. in Park Circle. That event will include a buffet, live music, raffles and more.