Rescue Rangers going strong
Katrina Nickell, a Lincolnwood resident and Rescue Ranger working with seniors with managing life tasks, and Mayor Jerry Turry stand next to a bust of Henry A Proesel. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
For more information about the Rescue Rangers program contact Carrie Dick at (847) 745-4717.
Updated: January 28, 2013 1:57AM
LINCOLNWOOD — Homeowners unable to shovel snow on their own this winter need not fret: a volunteer corps of children is willing to lend a helping hand.
Now in its eighth year, the village-sponsored Rescue Rangers program is a community service for senior and disabled residents.
Between eight and 10 children annually sign up to help complete everyday tasks for neighbors who are physically unable or suffer from a lack of resources.
Mayor Jerry Turry, who founded and oversees the program, said residents had previously relied on the fire department for help.
After Village Hall received numerous cleanup requests as a result of the major snowfall in 2005, Turry figured there was a better way to utilize village resources.
“That’s when it dawned on me,” he said.
With the backing of Lincoln Hall, he recruited middle schoolers to learn about and perform public service.
Today students in signature green Rescue Ranger caps visit their neighbors as needed to perform duties like taking out garbage and walking pets. Volunteers able to drive are sometimes asked to move a neighbor’s car.
Though most participants volunteer their time, the program allows them to earn up to $10 per hour for their services. Homeowners and students determine pay, though non-monetary rewards are equally prized.
Turry, for example, has pledged to issue letters of recommendation for those who volunteer with the Rescue Rangers throughout their high school careers.
The community program also has helped foster cross-generational relationships.
Katrina Nickell, 14, has helped seniors over the past few years by removing snow, pouring salt on frozen sidewalks, and putting out and bringing back trash toters for pickup.
Nickell said neighbors appreciate the work and her visits.
“Sometimes people live alone,” she said. “They like having company.”
Now a freshman at Niles West High School, Nickell joined the Rescue Rangers in sixth grade after seeing a video about the program at school.
“I enjoy it very much,” she said of the public service group. “I plan on sticking with it for a long time.”
Turry, who is not seeking re-election to a third term next year, said he hopes the Rescue Rangers program continues after his departure.
If nothing else, he is pleased with his young crew’s commitment to serve others.
“I wanted them to learn to give something to the community and to do good work, and I think they have,” he said.