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Local volunteer firefighters showered in recognition

Seven volunteer firefighters receive plaques and recognition Tuesday night for their work with local fire departments. From left are Pat Lujan, an officer with Character Counts! of Chaves County; Mark Johnson of East Grand Plains Volunteer Fire Department; Raymond Cervantes of District Eight Volunteer Fire Department; Manuel Delgado of Dexter Fire Department; Christopher Herrera of Hagerman Fire Department; Michael McClain of Berrendo Fire Department; David Bugarin of Midway Volunteer Fire Department; and Tim Fuller, executive director of Character Counts! Tyler Ford of Sierra Volunteer Fire Department was unable to attend the event. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Many people appreciate the courage and hard work required of professional firefighters, and members of a local group think that those who respond to emergencies as volunteers deserve recognition as well.

Character Counts! of Chaves County honored seven men who freely give their time and energies to some of the 11 volunteer and village fire departments in the county during a Tuesday night event at the Chaves County Administrative Center.

It was the third year of the event for the local chapter of the national program. The local nonprofit also honors professional firefighters and police officers, teachers and students during various times of the year.

The fire departments selected the members they wanted to recognize for exhibiting the six pillars of character at the core of the Character Counts! national personal development program. Those six characteristics are trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring and citizenship.

“You as volunteers live up to the six pillars,” said Tim Fuller, executive director of the Chaves County Character Counts! organization and a volunteer firefighter himself. “You truly step out. You risk your lives. You do all these things because you are doing right.”

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Roswell Independent School District Director of Instruction Pat Lujan, a member of the organization since 1995, thanked the honorees for their contributions to others and quoted the program’s founder, Michael Josephson, about what the national program seeks to recognize: “People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.”

Honorees are listed in alphabetical order.

David Bugarin of the Midway Volunteer Fire Department, a volunteer for about two years and a substance abuse counselor, was recognized not only for his hard work with the group but for having made a profound transformation in all aspects of his life. He also was praised for being willing to put others before himself, including organizing fundraisers for a fellow volunteer in a coma.

Raymond Cervantes, a member of the District Eight Volunteer Fire Department for about a year, was selected for being willing to do anything required or asked of him, including training other new recruits.

Manuel Delgado of the Dexter Fire Department, a commercial driver who has volunteered for more than 18 years, was recognized for being the type of person who puts his own life on hold to help others, whether to pull them out when their vehicles are stuck or give them blankets or clothes or food.

Tyler Ford of the Sierra Volunteer Fire Department was participating in training and unable to attend. He was honored for having helped the department during a transition in many different ways, from doing paperwork to helping to keep the “chemistry” of the department on track.

Christopher Herrera of the Hagerman Fire Department, who began volunteering about four years ago as a junior in high school and will join the Artesia Fire Department soon, was recognized for blossoming from a newbie unsure what to do to becoming a reliable team member who could be counted on to do anything needed during an emergency.

Mark Johnson of the East Grand Plains Volunteer Fire Department, a construction contractor and a volunteer for about 12 years, received his honor for being willing to do anything to help the department, from working on vehicles to responding to calls to assisting other firefighters.

Michael McClain of the Berrendo Fire Department, a J&G Electric employee and a volunteer for 13 years, was described as someone who went “above and beyond” and once had gone to great lengths at night to rescue his fellow volunteers who were stuck near a river.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.