Community Heroes: Gratitude for Neighbors Helping Neighbors

The Corona pandemic has profoundly magnified the vital and selfless role of our region’s volunteer first responders.  Northwest Connecticut fire and ambulance services run on volunteers and are fueled by the generosity and bravery of our neighbors who teach at our schools, fix our leaky pipes, and landscape our gardens. They are also our skilled and well-trained first responders.

It’s these individuals that Mary and Philip Oppenheimer felt compelled to honor through funding and producing a documentary that pays homage to the heroic yet humble sacrifice and selflessness of our first responders. The result is Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a 15-minute film that premiered drive-in style on July 11 at Sharon Playhouse, which opened their parking lot, provided technical support, and created a welcoming environment even during a downpour and subsequent rainbow.

To bring their vision to life, the Oppenheimers called upon Salisbury-based nationally-recognized documentary filmmaker Anne Makepeace to create and direct the brief and compelling film--a mix of interviews, testimonials, and footage from fires and rescues.

Makepeace described at the premiere, “I’ve lived here since 2003, but I didn’t really live here until I started this project.” She honored the generosity, the spirit of giving without asking anything in return, and the risks first responders take on behalf of their neighbors.

According to Makepeace, she began the film in October 2018 and the last shoot was March 6, 2020. Originally wanting to call the film, “Local Heroes,” Makepeace was dissuaded by the subjects of her film. They see themselves as neighbors helping neighbors, which ultimately became the name of the documentary.

In addition to expressing gratitude, the Oppenheimers and Makepeace hope that the volunteer fire and ambulance services in the area can use the film to help raise funds and recruit volunteers. “Give some thought to the ways you can use help,” suggested Mary Close Oppenheimer to the crowd of first responders at the premiere, “We can help get the word out.”

Also assisting with promotion and dissemination is the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, which created a special volunteer first responders issue of their newsletter, The Steward, filled with information about emergency services in Northwest Connecticut. The foundation has awarded $100,000 in grants to emergency service organizations over the past ten years. It will also assist in the promotion and dissemination of the film. Neighbors Helping Neighbors will be available online in the coming weeks on the foundation’s website and via an emailed link. This will allow widespread viewing by individuals, schools, and local organizations.

We invite you to read more about two of the film’s featured first responders, Jacquie Rice of Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service and The Falls Village Volunteer Fire Department’s Andrea Downs, to whom Noble Horizons paid tribute during this year’s National Emergency Medical Services Week.    You may stream the 15-minute movie here.

Go back

Recent Blog Posts View All

Noble Horizons has worked hard to keep families close throughout pandemic. We are proud to announce that the visitation center designed and constructed by members of the Noble team to allow safe family visits during the pandemic will be featured in the Best Practices section of the State of Connecticut's Department of Aging and Disability Services Silver Panther summer newsletter.  

For 15 years,  Linda Castaldi has been welcoming people to Noble Horizons. “I’m the first voice people hear when they call Noble,” Linda describes, “I’m always in contact with residents’ families, helping them feel at ease and providing them with information.”

When you ask Laurie Frey what she does at Noble Horizons you quickly realize there is very little she doesn’t do. From personnel to housekeeping, laundry to the reception desk, Laurie Frey does it all ... with boundless energy, an infectious smile and a deep fondness for Noble residents and their families. “I like to do different things, and I love to do anything that brings me in contact with the residents. I enjoy having a bond with them.”

Today’s birding blog brings me back to Massachusetts, more specifically the town of Sheffield. The location is Bartholomew’s Cobble, a property owned by the Trustees of the Reservation (the same organization that maintains Field Farm), a location that was chock full of birds and one of the most beautiful locations that I have visited for this blog series.