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Schroeder supporters raise money to keep small community safe

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Nov. 4, 2012 at 5:04 a.m.

Elizabeth Loomis, left, and her daughter Linda Langnau pass out deserts during the eighth annual Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department  Fundraiser in Goliad. The women made 11 different deserts together over the course of two days to prepare for the fundraiser.

Larry Ormsby remembers when the Goliad Volunteer Fire Department was Schroeder's nearest fire station.

Before the Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department formed in 2005, its residents were at the mercy of Goliad firefighters, who had to drive about 18 miles to respond to an emergency fire in the city.

The close-knit community of about 3,500 people decided to establish its own department and organize a team of area volunteer responders.

"The response times were slow, and we thought we could help the community and the people who live in our coverage area," if we created our own department, said Ormsby, who has served as a Schroeder Fire Department responder since it formed seven years ago. "There's no doubt we've saved lives through the years."

But the station and its trucks cost money to purchase and maintain. And on Sunday, the fire department and about 300 energized supporters turned out for the eighth annual Schroeder Volunteer Fire Department Fundraiser at Texas' second-oldest dance club, Schroeder Hall.

"We get grants, and we receive money from the county, but it's not enough to take care of us year in and year out," Ormsby said.

Schroeder Fire Department Association members organized a day of fundraising activities at the dance hall, hoping to raise about $25,000.

A live and silent auction featured homemade and home cooked items for sale, as well as gift certificates, art work, rifles and other hunting tools and hand-carved ice chests, among many other prizes.

The fundraiser also featured a cake wheel, plant sale and barbecue brisket plates to-go.

"Everything we raise goes to replace equipment, pay for training or repair the equipment we have," said the fire department's president, Jimmy Schulze. "This fundraiser is an effort, and it's a community effort. If I had to list all the people who worked on this, I'd have to name over 100 people."

Myrna Bednorz, one of the department's members and fundraising volunteers, said the effort is worth it because it helps their devoted responders maintain the tools and training they need to keep the community safe.

"It's a lot of work, but it's rewarding because the heart of the community comes out," she said. "I'm hopeful it will be a success."

Though small, Ormsby said the department has grown in recent years to become a well-equipped station in both tools and responder capabilities.

"We've gone from responding to small grass fires to now being able to put out house fires and respond to motor vehicle accidents," he said.

Like Ormsby, the responders continue to remain passionate about their volunteer department because they know it provides a needed service of safety for the community.

"We care about the people. And it's not just Schroeder. It's the passion to help and care for the people who need it," he said. "The people who do volunteer do a good job, and we love it."

Ormsby said Sunday night the department raised a little more than $24,000, about $3,000 more than last year's fundraiser.



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