In appreciation of law enforcement, firefighters and emergency personnel putting their lives on the line every single day, the Minden Masonic Lodge #51 hosted a dinner to say “Thank you.”
Master Mason Gary Carter says the dinner – jambalaya and all the fixings – is just to say thank you to all those who serve. Invited were the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, all the municipal police departments, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents, all the fire departments in Webster Parish and EMS services.
“It’s just honoring all law enforcement and emergency personnel,” he said. “They’ve been getting such a negative portrayal here lately, so we thought we would give them a positive one.”
Minden Fire Chief Kip Mourad says the dinner is a nice way to be recognized.
“Anytime somebody gives a dinner in appreciation for law enforcement and firefighters, it’s great,” he said. “It’s a good thing that they recognize first responders. It’s just a good thing.”
Mourad, who has seen a lot of bad things happen in his long career as a firefighter, says he’s touched by the community who reaches out to someone who lost their home to fire. He says it’s the “civilian” who comes out and really supports their fellow citizen.
Matt Wilson, who attended the dinner, has been a firefighter since 2003, but has been with the Minden Fire Department, District 7, since 2012. He says firefighting has been a passion for him for many, many years. Of the appreciation dinner, he also says it’s a nice way to be recognized.
“I think it’s a really nice gesture on their part to acknowledge police, fire and EMS,” he said. “It’s just a good thing they’re doing.”
He says he loves his job, not only because he gets to help people and provide a much-needed service for the district, but he loves the camaraderie and the brotherhood of being a firefighter.
His grandfather, Harvey Lee, was a volunteer firefighter under the late Chief T.C. Bloxom, and his interest grew from there.
Mourad has been around firefighting all his life, moving into a firehouse in the first grade, he says. His grandfather was a firefighter as well.
The Masonic Lodge is a fraternal organization whose base is strong on charitable works, and whose practices do nothing more than make good men better, Carter says.
Minden Masonic Lodge #51 has hosted various fundraisers to raise money to donate to charity.
The national lodge donates roughly $6 million to charities each year, Carter says.
“We have started participating actively for the last couple of years, and we have presented to the tune of about $3,000 each time,” Carter said. “Every little bit helps. We give to the dyslexia fund, we give to the Special Olympics; there are so many things that we try to support.”