While the rest of us are gathering around the Thanksgiving table and decking our halls, some of our fellow community members are leaving behind their own families to work long shifts where they will care, protect and serve. This holiday season, we give thanks for their service and sacrifice. 

 

Master Firefighter III Curtis Newman

Leawood Fire Department

How long have you been a Leawood Firefighter, and tell me a little bit about your station and what you do.

I have been a Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the City of Leawood for about 14 years. I work out of fire station 32, located at 127th and Mission Rd. 

The Fire Department responds to a variety of incidents including fires, explosions, medical emergencies, hazardous material emergencies, technical rescue incidents which can involve high angle/low angle rope rescues and flash flood water rescue incidents. The Fire Department also responds to incidents involving domestic terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In addition, the Fire Department responds to a wide variety of non-emergency calls for service and also provides many community services.

What is your favorite part of serving the community?

One of my favorite parts of serving the community is the sense of pride in that no matter the time, day, or situation, we will always respond to the emergency and service needs of our residents and visitors. This sense of pride is only enhanced when working on a holiday. While most businesses and other operations take the day off, we will respond.

Do you do anything special with your station at work on holidays? 

One thing that is always a part of our holidays is a big meal. The fire department is a family in itself, and like any other family, we have dinner together every night. Each person chips in for the groceries, and our holiday meals are typical of what you would find with our families at home. It is not uncommon for our home families to come to the fire station for a short visit.

What do you do with your family to celebrate these holidays around your work schedule? 

Being a family member of a firefighter isn’t always easy. That can be especially true around the holidays. Most of the time, my family will celebrate the day before or the day after a holiday for which I am on duty. Some of the time I just have to miss the celebration all together. I definitely appreciate the sacrifice on behalf of my wife and family in the preparation, follow through, and entertaining of family from near and far when I am away. 

How do community members show appreciation for your service on holidays?

We feel needed and appreciated year round by the community and city leadership, and we routinely receive praise and thanks. Around the holidays, there are a few citizens who will donate several turkeys to have on duty or to take home to our families to enjoy. We also receive praise and thanks in the form of sweets! Visitors bring cakes, pies, cookies and more. 

Officer Christina Farquhar 

Leawood Police Department

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a POIII (Police Officer), and I have been with the Leawood Police Department for 11 years, eight of which I have been on patrol. I have rotating shifts every three months (days, evenings and midnights). I am a car seat technician, CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) and an E-tech (I went through crime scene school and when a crime occurs I take DNA swabs or fingerprints). I also manage our CAPTURE program for the city.

What is your favorite part of serving the community?

My favorite part of serving the community is the ability to make a change in our citizens’ lives. Whether I come in contact with individuals in a mental health crisis or individuals who have just been victimized, I am able to ensure they get the help they need. It is very rewarding to know that I was able to help make a change for the better in people.

Do you do anything special with your station at work on holidays? 

Typically, our crews will bring in food to share so that we can hopefully all eat together on the holidays. We try to have a “crew breakfast” when time allows once a month so we can spend some time together. Since our department is smaller, we do not have partners in our vehicles, and the only time we see each other is at the station or out on a call.

What do you do with your family to celebrate these holidays around your work schedule? 

Depending on the day the holiday falls and when my days off fall, I will celebrate with my family before each holiday. When my daughter was younger, she wouldn’t even realize which day was actually Christmas, allowing us to celebrate ahead of time. We have to be flexible around the holidays since I’m typically working. I do enjoy taking my kids to special holiday events as much as possible so that the whole month is filled with family time and fun!

How do community members show appreciation for your service on holidays?

We have several residents who bring in food during the holidays, and all of us appreciate this very much. It is their way of saying thank you, and it speaks volumes. They have also sent in letters and cards to thank us for all that we do especially around the holiday season. Last year, a coworker was the one who warmed my heart the most. He allowed me to stay home on Christmas morning, so I could see my children open their presents on Christmas. It was my son’s first Christmas so it was very memorable.

 

Racheal Roberts

Menorah Nurse Medical Telemetry unit

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

I’ve worked with Menorah for almost three years now, and have developed the closest of friendships with my coworkers. They really are my second family. I’m currently in school working towards my BSN, with plans to graduate this December. For my senior project, I’m working with the homeless in the KC area, providing medical care, or handing out care packages. My family is small, but we are close. We are a little dysfunctional, but that’s what makes my family my favorite.

What is your favorite part of serving the community/your patients at Menorah?

I love the social interactions that I’m able to have with my patients. Most of the patients I treat are elderly, and I love hearing stories about their upbringing because it’s so vastly different compared to mine!

Do you do anything special with your coworkers at work on holidays? 

Those who are able to bring leftovers from their family dinners bring it to share with the unit. For Christmas, we wear our festive sweaters and elves ears or Santa hats. The patients love it when we are in the holiday spirit! 

What do you do with your family to celebrate these holidays around your work schedule?   

My family is very accommodating. We plan meals around my work schedule so we can celebrate on the actual holiday. I do sacrifice a little of my sleep to get up earlier to have a meal with my family, but that’s a fair trade!

How do community members make you feel valued when working holidays?

A patient’s family always take the time to mention how appreciative they are of the staff for caring for their loved ones on the holiday. Families tend to bring the big tins of butter cookies to share with the unit (which we love, by the way!) It’s not always an action that’s needed to feel appreciated, just a few kind words will do the trick.

 

Dispatcher Rachel Snooks  

Tell us a little bit about what do you do?

 I am a 911 dispatcher and have been for nearly 16 years. I am the first point of contact when emergency assistance is needed. It is my responsibility to dispatch out proper authorities to help resolve situations, while staying calm and comforting to anyone on the other end of the phone or radio. I utilize a wide variety of resources such as the telephone, radio system, camera system, mapping systems, and most importantly, computer-aided dispatch to determine a proper course of action.

What is your favorite part of serving the community?

 My absolute favorite part of serving the community is that it is unbelievably rewarding. We never know what will be on the other end of a 911 call, but I pride myself in knowing I can be the calm in their storm.

Do you do anything special with your coworkers at work on holidays? 

 Your coworkers become your extended family. You spend a lot of long hours with one another and experience such trauma that makes your bond strong because they understand the mental challenge and can empathize with one another. You cry together or celebrate together, but you see each other through the good and bad. I take full advantage of using the holidays to celebrate one another and help make up for the void of not being with your own family. Public safety is manned 24/7, 365 so we usually prepare for upcoming holidays with goodie bags or a pot-luck dinner. We are pretty limited on what we can do, but we do try to acknowledge special days.

What do you do with your family to celebrate these holidays around your work schedule? 

 My husband is a sergeant for a Missouri agency, so between the two of us having public safety scheduling our families have no choice but to celebrate with us either prior to the actual holiday or after it. They’re pretty understanding now, but it took a while to get it that way. The holiday is when we make it.

 How has the Leawood community shown you appreciation over the holidays?

The Leawood community is unlike any other community I have ever worked for. I love it here. The citizens will often bring us cookies or meals with notes of appreciation to our station, or call up to tell us Happy Holidays and thank us for our services. I always feel very appreciated in my role in our community, and I know that I’m not alone in that. I don’t know if the citizens realize this or not, but their gestures are not taken for granted and are very welcomed.