WATERVILLE — Barbara Currie has turned her grief into something positive.

Currie, wife of the late firefighter Ronald F. Currie Sr., has resurrected an appreciation dinner for emergency workers that was hosted annually by the Waterville Elks Lodge but discontinued more than 30 years ago.

The dinner, sponsored by Elks and volunteers, will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at the Elks Lodge, where 225 firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers from Waterville, Winslow, Oakland and Fairfield, as well as Elks members, are expected to attend. A dance will follow the dinner and awards ceremony.

A firefighter and police officer from each community will be given Firefighter of the Year or Police of the Year awards and an emergency medical worker will get an EMT of the Year award.

“I am very, very excited about it,” Currie said Monday of the event. “I’m very excited about the response that I got for it. Friday night will be a big night for the Elks.”

Currie’s husband was a 30-year veteran Waterville firefighter when he died of cancer in 2007 at 57.

One of the things he had planned to do, but never got a chance, was to join the Waterville Elks Lodge, according to his wife.

So Barbara Currie, now 57, decided to do it for him. She joined the Elks in April 2010 and made it her mission to resurrect the appreciation dinner.

“I said, ‘I can do it. I can make a difference,'” she said. “I brought it to past exalted ruler, David Anderson. We raised money for the event. I’m not done yet, but so far I’ve raised about $1,100, and we still have a couple of things going to help pay for it. The lodge members got together and helped me raise money.”

Anderson said Tuesday that when Currie approached him about resurrecting the event, he thought it was a good idea, as Elks lodges all over the country recognize and support community efforts such as those performed by emergency workers.

“She has probably done 90 percent of the leg work and fundraising for it,” Anderson said. “That’s Barbara Currie for you. When she gets her mind set on something, she follows through.”

Police and fire chiefs from area towns identified people in their departments who have gone above and beyond, and nominated them to receive the awards, Currie said.

Wayne Cotterly, Maine Elks Association state president, will be guest speaker. Also in attendance Friday night will be newly-appointed district deputy grand exalted ruler, Gary Cooper, of the Maine central district. Past state president and district deputy grand exalted ruler Robert Drisko also will be there. Both Cooper and Drisko are past exalted rulers.

Exalted Ruler Carlette Place will present awards to Oakland recipients; Anderson’s wife, Chaplin Sandi Anderson, will present awards to Winslow firefighters and police; and David Fecteau, Elk of the Year, will present the EMT award.

Barb Gerry, lodge secretary, will present the Fairfield awards.

“They’ve elected me to present Waterville’s,” Currie said. “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll make it, especially when it comes to the firefighters.”

Currie said she plans to make the event an annual one.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


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