Kearney Noon Rotary Club Awarded 2018 Healthy Community Prevention Award
June 04, 2018
On Dec. 7, 2005, Kearney led the state for most smoking-related fire deaths after suffering four tragedies, a first in 15 years. One victim, Keegan Taylor, a seven-year-old Bryant Elementary School second-grader, spurred Rotarian Judi Sickler and the Kearney Noon Rotary Club into action. Taylor, a friend of Sickler’s daughter, perished in a house fire where no working smoke detectors were present.
Originally named "Project Safe Holidays," and later renamed to coincide with National Fire Prevention week in early October, the Kearney Noon Rotary Club’s Smoke Detector Project is an annual and growing effort. In its thirteenth year, 175 volunteers along with several area businesses have financed and installed nearly 800 detectors and 500 batteries in more than 400 area homes at a reduced cost, or in most instances, free of charge.
Thanks to the club’s proactive contributions to preventing injury, the Kearney Noon Rotary Club will be accepting the 2018 Healthy Community Prevention Award sponsored by CHI Health Good Samaritan. This award is presented to an individual or group who has provided a service or program that makes a significant contribution to preventing injury, illness or disease.
The Rotarians are quick to point out the program wouldn’t be possible without past and present members and partnering businesses and agencies like the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department. According to Jason Whalen, KVFD fire administrator, "This smoke alarm project is a vital portion of our fire prevention efforts across our community. The Noon Rotary’s contributions have ensured that hundreds of Kearney residents are now protected by properly working smoke detectors."
The project has expanded to include senior citizens, particularly those who may have difficulty getting on ladders to replace smoke detector batteries. Deb Eirich, senior services coordinator for the City of Kearney, says, "Seniors like the program, as it gives them a chance to have someone check their detectors and put in new batteries if needed."
And group works with Head Start to reach low-income families.
"It was very alarming to learn how many families did not have smoke detectors or had them but no working batteries in them," says Laicie Clark, center director/family service worker.
One parent who participated in the program through Head Start told Clark, as the result of the project, "My children are safe and we practice fire drills now."