Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Raising monies for Jaws of Life at a small town pork chop feed March 28, 2013

Pork chop dinner take-out at the Vesta Community Hall.

Pork chop supper take-out at the Vesta Community Hall.

SMALL TOWN, MINNESOTA, on a Saturday night, and I am snapping pictures at a pork chop supper in the community hall.

This could be Any Town, rural Minnesota. But this is my hometown of Vesta, population around 330, situated half way between Redwood Falls and Marshall along State Highway 19 on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.

Volunteer firefighters, including my cousin Randy, left, grill pork chops outside the hall.

Volunteer firefighters, including my cousin Randy, left, grill pork chops outside the hall. The firemen served about 250 meals.

Outside the hall, several volunteer firemen, including my cousin Randy, are grilling chops over an open charcoal pit for the annual Vesta Firemen’s Relief Association Pork Chop Supper.

David Widman sells tickets.

David Widman sells tickets.

Harlan and Karen step up to the serving window, where Erin, center, and other volunteers dish up food.

Harlan and Karen step up to the serving window, where Erin, center, and other volunteers dish up food.

The grilled pork chop meal.

The grilled pork chop meal.

Inside, Randy’s wife, Erin, and others are scooping up baked beans and potato salad and parceling out chops while other volunteers sell tickets and pour beverages. My nearly 81-year-old mom, whom we are visiting for the weekend, is treating my husband and me to supper.

I knew most of the diners.

I knew most of the diners.

As I mingle among diners, chatting with aunts, an uncle, cousins, and locals I haven’t seen in awhile, I’m cognizant of the importance of this event to raise funds for the Vesta Volunteer Fire Department. Proceeds will go toward a new $25,000 Jaws of Life device, already purchased with a $5,000 grant, past Pork Chop feed dollars and a loan.

Volunteer firemen remove the windshield from a junk car.

Volunteer firemen remove the windshield from a junk car.

After finishing my meal, at 7 p.m,, I step outside the Vesta Community Hall to observe several volunteer firemen remove a windshield and peel open the doors of a junk car using that new Jaws of Life.

About 30 onlookers gathered outside the hall to watch the Jaws of Life demonstration.

About 30 onlookers gathered outside the hall to watch the Jaws of Life demonstration.

Bracing myself against the stiff wind in a “feels more like 15 than 30 degrees,” I question my judgment in roving around the “accident scene” taking photos. Why would this crowd of about 30 stand outside in this raw weather watching this demonstration?

Because they care. Because they support their local volunteer firemen and First Responders. Because they know this could be them or their next-door-neighbor or their sibling or some stranger off the highway in need of rescue and emergency care.

Peeling away doors with the new Jaws of Life.

Peeling away doors with the new Jaws of Life.

The fire department typically responds to 12 – 15 fire calls annually in a 61 square mile area covering the City of Vesta, Vesta Township and part of Underwood Township, according to Fire Chief Travis Welch. In 2012, firefighters fought a major shop fire. They also responded to two head-on crashes which left three dead. Eight of the volunteer firemen serve as Vesta First Responders.

To the 18 volunteer firefighters—Travis, Jeremy D., Dallas, George, Randy, Tony, Aaron, Jeff, Jeremy K., Jon, David, Brian, Jason, Andrew, Neal, Jordan, Ryan B. and Ryan E.—thank you for being there for my hometown of Vesta.

Standing in front of the community hall, I watch the sun set in my hometown.

Standing in front of the community hall, I turn and watch the sun set in my hometown.

FYI: If you wish to donate monies toward the $5,000 balance owed for the Jaws of Life, mail your donation to:

Vesta Fire Relief
c/o David Widman
Box 104
Vesta, MN. 56292

The new Jaws of Life replaces jaws more than 20 years old and “unable to cut some of the new high tensile steel in today’s cars,” according to a letter from the Vesta Firemen’s Relief Association.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

11 Responses to “Raising monies for Jaws of Life at a small town pork chop feed”

  1. What a Great Cause – the jaws of life can really make the difference when it comes to saving a life! Thanks for sharing – Have a Great Day:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      This is such a rural area, 20 miles from the nearest hospital, meaning every second counts.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Mmmmmmm pork chops, and for such a great cause!!! I like that the Fire Dept. had a demonstration, it’s not often a person gets to see how the Jaws of Life work! Good to have but hopefully they wont have to use them too often.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Given Vesta lies along Minnesota Highway 19, a major highway in the region, it’s really a good idea for the department to have its own Jaws of Life. I just updated my post with new info about three fatalities in two head-on crashes in the department’s coverage area in 2012. The closest ambulance services are located in Redwood Falls and Marshall, each 20 miles away from Vesta in opposite directions.

  3. Travis Welch Says:

    Thanks for your support to our cause. We try our hardest to stay up-to-date with the changing industry.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Happy to support your cause, Travis. I have family in the area and many other people I know, which makes this acquisition important to me personally.

  4. Bernie Says:

    Were you home for Easter with your family Audrey? Enjoying the Vesta posts! Happy Easter and Happy Spring…when it finally gets here!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Bernie, Randy and I just drove out to visit Mom as we won’t be with her at Easter. The trip to Vesta was long overdue, but you know how this winter has been for travel. Even on Sunday, when wisps of snow fell, snow was already drifting across the westbound lane of Highway 19 north of Vesta.

      A most blessed and happy Easter to you and your loved ones!

  5. David Thomas Says:

    I am looking for a David N Widman that once lived in Chicago on Plainfield, in the 50’s and 60’s. I came across a box of family photos. Think he might be related?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.