By Kevin Curfman
Lewis County Chaplaincy Services President
Across Lewis County, crisis strikes our communities every day. It may be a residential house fire, an elderly spouse experiencing a cardiac arrest or a tragic accident at a workplace.
Regardless of the event, it is traumatic for the individual, family members and friends that are involved. These types of calls also can have a heavy toll on the emergency responders who respond on a daily basis.
Responding alongside those emergency responders are dedicated chaplains from the Lewis County Chaplaincy Services (LCCS).
These dedicated men and women are there to help to bring a calm to the scene and to assist all those involved during and immediately after the crisis.
They may explain to the family members the actions of the emergency responders and help to provide for their immediate needs. They are there to assist them through the event and will work to put together a support system of resources that will assist them with rebuilding their lives after a tragedy.
For the emergency responders, the chaplains are there to support them in their jobs and to be a “listening ear” when they need to talk about that especially bad call to which they recently responded. It is our goal that all emergency response agencies have a chaplain connected to their department that they can work with and consider to be their chaplain.
Emergency chaplaincy services began in Lewis County in 1989.
A program was started in the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Centralia Police Department at the same time a different one was started with the Chehalis Fire Department. In 1993, the two programs merged into the Lewis County Chaplaincy Services. It has since been available to serve all emergency agencies in the county including law enforcement, fire departments, the dispatch center and the coroner’s office.
Since the programs joined, I have had the privilege of serving as the director and president of the board of directors for the chaplaincy since that time. Over the years we have added more chaplains and expanded our services in various ways. Two years ago we were asked by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office to begin overseeing the volunteers who come into the jail to work with inmates and provide chaplain services to them. This has proven to be a great extension to the work of LCCS.
We have also had other exciting changes.
One is that we recently commissioned a total of 11 new chaplains to serve in Lewis County. Some of these chaplains will be working in emergency response and others in the jail ministry. This will give better and more efficient coverage for calls especially in the east end of the county. We are excited to have the new chaplains on-board and they are currently undergoing training to prepare them to respond.
With the recent growth, the board of directors saw the need to have someone to focus on the daily operation of LCCS. We are happy that Chaplain Betty Kitchen has accepted the position of executive director. I will continue to serve as president of the board of directors.
We also have expanded the board by adding two new positions. One is a board member to represent the jail ministry. The other is the position of community pastor which has been filled. This gives us six board members from the emergency agencies and the community that we serve.
I look forward to seeing the LCCS continue to grow and serve those responding to and in crisis situations across our community.
Kevin T. Curfman, President
Lewis County Chaplaincy Services