OTTAWA — First responders take care of immediate needs, making sure everyone is safe in an emergency. The Second Responders make sure they can live their lives fully.
The group, a Knights of Columbus project headed by Jefferson Award winner Tim Macke, of Ottawa, formed two-plus years ago to help people prepare for and recover from the persistent flooding in downtown Ottawa. They move items to higher ground when predictions call for the Blanchard River to flood.
The emergency organization really showed its strength last fall, when its crew arrived in Cloverdale to help after a tornado ripped through the Putnam County village the night before.
“There was so much debris that AEP couldn’t get to the power poles,” Cloverdale Mayor Judd Spencer said. “Tim Macke was the one who had the equipment and people able to remove the big debris.”
That’s where the 53-member Second Responders crew showed its might.
“There were some huge trees that had taken the power lines down,” Macke recalled. “Our guys jumped right in and started taking down these trees, clearing them up. Here are all these AEP trucks, a whole fleet of them, just waiting for us to get done.”
Spencer added, “Without that happening, they never could’ve restored power that quickly. We had power back two days after the storm.”
That type of action is what makes Macke so valuable in Putnam County, said Harold Gerten, who serves with Macke in the Knights of Columbus.
“He does so much for the community, it’s hard to even quantify it all,” Gerten said. “He’s involved in so many different things and is so dedicated to the community. It’s just what he does. It’s who he is.”
The Jefferson Awards for Public Service recognize eight local winners for their volunteerism in the community, with each getting $350 for their organization. They’re sponsored by the Husky Lima Refinery, The Lima News, Your Hometown Stations and the United Way of Greater Lima. One local winner will announced at an event Tuesday at the City Club in downtown Lima as the area’s representative to the national awards celebration in Washington, D.C., and the recipient of an additional $700 for the organization.
Macke also runs the recycling program for the Putnam County Community Thrift Store. In 2005, the organization got a baler so it could tightly pack clothing, cardboard and other recyclables. It sells those items to help stock the thrift store’s food pantry.
Last year, the organization recycled 216 tons of materials, beyond what was resold at the store’s Main Street location in Ottawa.
“We’re here to give our three Ts — time, talent and treasure,” Macke said. “I’ve been taught that from my youth on. Fortunately, I’ve had a group of friends and relatives who have exemplified that.”
Macke also serves as council president in Ottawa and helps with various activities at his church, SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ottawa. He also helped launched a community gardens project in Ottawa, turning flood-prone plots into shared gardening spaces. He reveled at seeing young people fall in love with fresh fruits and vegetables.
“By the end of the year, kids were loving pulling the vegetables out of the garden and eating them raw right there,” Macke said. “They no longer talked about going and getting pop, potato chips and all that. They were eating fresh vegetables and loving it. It was neat to see.”
Macke urged people to volunteer in a way that matters to them.
“It takes a lot of people to get things done,” he said.