Since 2019, the Walter & Lewis Funeral Home has sponsored an annual First Responders Appreciation Honor program naming a local first responder organization to be the recipient of special proclamation during the month of May.
In March of this year, Frank Lewis, owner of the Walter & Lewis Funeral Home, announced that the Urbana Police Division would be the recipient of the 2022 award.
As part of this program, Lewis and his team partner with the local Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital to create a field of flags, where, through sponsorship, funds are raised to be presented to the award recipient to use to improve or benefit the agency in meeting an unfunded challenge.
From May 21-May 31, the community has the privilege to enjoy the end result of the First Responders Appreciation Honor field of flags that is now on display along the front lawn and hills in front of Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital.
“Mercy Health is so honored to be a part of this annual tradition, paying tribute to those serving as first responders. Many of our patients and even staff members are retired or active duty military,” said Jamie Houseman, president, Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital. “Being host to this patriotic display year after year is a great opportunity for us to unite as a community in recognition and appreciation of their efforts and their sacrifices. It not only serves as a visual reminder of what Memorial Day is really about, but it raises money for an important safety program, which goes hand in hand with the Mercy Health mission of building healthier communities.”
This past Saturday, over 30 members of the Urbana community came together to help create the field of flags, posting and raising 200 flags. That team of flag raisers included first responder personnel from various Champaign County law enforcement, fire, EMS, medical and health organizations, as well as local veterans and civic groups. As the field of flags was raised that morning, a real sense of camaraderie and purpose was created among that team comprised of our community members.
“I’d like to publicly thank Mr. Lewis and the Walter & Lewis Funeral Home as well as Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital for this distinguished and honorable program,” said Urbana Police Chief Matt Lingrell. “We, at the Urbana Police Division, are successful because of the tremendous support we receive professionally by working so closely with the other first responder organizations we have throughout Champaign County that are here to provide safety and security services for our communities. As chief of the Urbana Police Division, I can attest to the particularly special feeling and bond that we feel each and every time that this community shows its appreciation for our efforts. It has become the norm and is so uplifting to our spirits, especially during times of great challenges.”
To show its appreciation for this year’s recognition, the Urbana Police Division will be using the program’s proceeds to help implement a new Youth Outreach program, COPs & Bobbers, where it will provide for a fishing program for area youngsters to participate in where they will:
-Learn water and fishing safety
-Be provided with their own fishing gear to keep
-Participate with police & parents in developing good relationships