Laurel volunteers assist first responders

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - "Fishers of Men in Action," or FOMA for short, is a group of Laurel-based volunteers that attend Magnolia Baptist Church.

A faith-based conference earlier this year with the theme of leaving a legacy inspired the group's creation.

Chris Stewart participated in that conference and said, "When we left from there, they told us they wanted us to break into small groups within our church and come up with a way that we could leave a legacy. Well, right around that time is when the tornadoes and all hit Alabama and North Mississippi and we saw a need we could fill with our group going up and helping as much as we could."

The men volunteered by bringing supplies to Smithville, Mississippi and worked to help areas outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

"Once we came back, we saw how we could change our community, see how we could help give back in our community. And we found out that there was a need in the hydration and nourishment of the fire department, the volunteer fire department," said Stewart.

So, when FOMA is called to assist responders on a fire call, they come ready with water and sometimes they ensure that first responders get a good meal on the emergency scene. The Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department's deputy chief, Lee Garick, is a member of FOMA.

According to Garick, "And I've been on both sides of that fence since FOMA started. We actually had a fire Monday night out in our district and these guys showed up with drinking water and it was just a blessing to have them here."

Even Magnolia Baptist's Pastor, P.J. Weeks, is a vital member of the group. Weeks said, "You know I didn't know what to expect the first fire we went on and I went with Lee and we walk out on the scene and there is grown men who have been fighting fires and they are on their hands and knees because they are completely exhausted."

FOMA hopes their program will inspire other church groups to establish their own organizations in their fire districts.

Fishers of Men in Action are currently working on certification to become the first church-based community emergency response team.

If you would like to help out Fishers of Men in Action with their water supplies, call Magnolia Baptist Church in Laurel at 601-649-5660.

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