By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: March 3, 2019 | 3:45 p.m.
SUSSEX – Last week, when Governor Ralph Northam announced the names of the the 10 recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Fire Service Awards, Sussex County’s own Emily Finchum, Founder of Positive Patrol, had no idea that she was about to be honored at a special statewide ceremony.
“They called and told me about the Civilian Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Support Award,” she said, “but they surprised me with a second award – a special recognition award for what I do, from the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association.”
“I was very scared af first,” she admitted, speaking of going forward to receive the awards. But once I got up there it was really cool.”
The shy 14-year-old said that she felt truly honored to be recognized twice at the Virginia Fire Rescue Conference on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. But among those not surprised was Sussex County’s Sheriff Ernest Giles.
“Emily is an outstanding, special child,” Giles said. “For a child her age, she has such a huge impact on the community. Emily also volunteers a lot with community organizations and the sheriff’s office. Whenever we put on an even she’s always eager to volunteer. In this day and time it’s hard to find a child with a heart that large – that we as adults should mimic.”
Finchum travels throughout Virginia to personally thank law enforcement officers, firefighters and dispatchers. In fact, she and her mom, Tara, have traveled to more than 105 towns, cities and counties under the banner “Positive Patrol” passing out colorful “Thank You” cards. Emily began her project after being bullied in third grade, originally beginning with passing out “everybody cards” with the phrase “you’re worth more than you know.” Her mission was to let other kids know that they would not have to go through being bullied alone. Over the years it has grown to the point that she has mailed or handed out 150,000 cards.
According to the press release from the Governor’s office, the Governor’s Fire Service Awards began in 2002 to recognize and honor excellence in Virginia’s Fire Services.
“Each year, we are amazed by the nominations that are presented. Selection is rigorous and the Virginia Fire Services Board does a spot on job in identifying award winners,” said Virginia Department of Fire Programs Executive Director Michael Reilly. “In collaboration with Governor Northam’s and Secretary Moran’s teams, we continue to showcase the best in Virginia’s Fire Service.”
“This year’s ten recipients represent the best of Virginia’s Fire Service and their stories are outstanding,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “I am honored to recognize this group for the sacrifices they make to ensure the safety and protection of the Commonwealth.”