By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Grafton – As challenging as it is be a firefighter, some want to go above and beyond, such as the members of the nonprofit Engine Company No. 2 of Grafton, Inc.
Now in its 15th year, the nonprofit is comprised of current and past members of the Grafton Fire Department Station 2 in North Grafton. With funds raised through its annual golf tournament (which had 101 participants in 2019) and donations, it facilitates scholarships, firefighting best practices and service projects that have a lasting impact on the community.
Although the nonprofit was formally established in 2005, firefighters from Grafton Fire Department’s Station 2 have been awarding a Grafton High School student a scholarship each year for at least the past 30 years. The nonprofit also improves the skills of its firefighters through training, and it provides them with firefighting and safety equipment such as vehicle extrication tools.
Ray Mead, a retired GFD assistant chief who has been a member of the nonprofit since its inception, said that the training and equipment that the association purchases is in addition to what’s provided by the town. So, it saves taxpayers money and demonstrates its commitment to residents’ safety.
“You can count on Grafton Fire Department to have the right equipment to do the work that they need to do,” Mead said.
Community service projects are also important to the nonprofit. After three years of work, in October 2019, the Stephen H. Roney Memorial Park, located on the corner of Bridge Street and North Main Street in North Grafton, was officially completed.
Mead, who is on the park project committee, said that creating the park was something that he and his fellow members – including the late Stephen H. Roney – had been excited about since it was proposed at a 2016 meeting. Roney had served as a firefighter for 45 years and as a captain for 11 of them. When he passed away in 2017, less than two months after a devastating cancer diagnosis, the nonprofit wanted to honor him by naming the park after him.
With funds from Grafton’s Community Preservation Committee, the park was designed, contractors were hired, and the initial work was done. Finally, in April of this year, the project was ready for the next stage in its development. Volunteers, including firefighters, Roney family members and friends, worked every weekend for four months to enhance the park through landscaping and the installation of energy-efficient lighting. An Eagle Scout designed the area around the flagpole, and Boy Scouts helped bring that design to life.
Now, with the lighting system activated and the grounds beautified, the community has been enjoying the nonprofit’s latest labor of love.
“This is the nicest park in the town of Grafton,” Mead said. “It’s something we’re very proud of, and it’s a great tribute to Steve.”
While the members of Engine Company No. 2 hope to do even more, they’re grateful for the community’s support over the years and for this most recent endeavor.
“It was overwhelming,” Mead shared. “Between the work of the volunteers, the donations and people calling to say ‘Hey, this place is great, and we love it,’ it’s been great.”