Caldwell, GVFC Once Again Raising Awareness for Autism
By Paul Silverfarb
When it comes to raising awareness and funds, the Glenville Volunteer Fire Company is top notch. Whether it’s Relay for Life, the ALS Tri-State Trek, Touch-A-Truck or many other events, Glenville always seems to step up its game.
Autism awareness is certainly on the radar for both Glenville Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Steven Caldwell and the rest of the company. After a highly-successful autism awareness campaign two years ago, Caldwell is back and ready to challenge the Greenwich community to make even more of a difference this time around.
“We are trying to do whatever we can to better understand autism,” Caldwell said. “I know last year members of the community attended a training on the topic of emergency response to situations involving autistic and special needs individuals. Whatever education we can get to actually help our members respond better and to identify certain signs is only going to help everybody.”
With April being Autism Awareness Month, Caldwell and the Glenville Volunteer Fire Department will be selling T-shirts throughout the month to raise both funds and awareness about autism.
“It’s very important,” said Caldwell. “A lot of communities aren’t aware of autism, but the members of Glenville are always happy to try and do something for the good of the community to raise funds for whatever cause it is for. We do all these community events, so whatever we can do in the community to give back is always what we are looking to do because the members of this company are pretty much made up of the community.”
The Glenville Volunteer Fire Company is certainly no stranger to raising money and awareness about autism. Two years ago, Caldwell led the charge for Glenville to participate in the Autism Patch Challenge, where the volunteer fire company put a patch on its fire trucks to show support for autism awareness during the month of April.
This time around, Caldwell will be selling T-shirts and is hopeful the Greenwich community comes out to wear the limited-edition shirts. The blue T-shirts will have the Glenville Volunteer Fire Company logo on front, with the background of their logo changed to the colorful autism puzzle design that has become synonymous with autism awareness. The colorful back of the shirt shows that the Glenville Volunteer Fire Company proudly supports autism awareness.
According to the Autism Society, the puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the puzzle pieces signals hope.
The Autism Patch Challenge was started in New Rochelle, N.Y. by New Rochelle police Det. Chris Greco. Greco’s 10-year-old son, Christopher, who attends school in New Rochelle, is autistic and non-verbal.
The Glenville Volunteer Fire Company couldn’t have been more thrilled to participate in the event. However, Caldwell said that instead of challenging other agencies just to promote awareness within their communities, he wanted to do something more.
“Myself and a few other people in the company wanted to do more and make it more beneficial,” Caldwell said. “That’s where the idea came up to sell T-shirts, where a portion of the proceeds will go to ‘Christopher’s Voice,’ which is a foundation for the New Rochelle officer that started the patch challenge. Whatever funds that we can gather for selling these T-shirts will go to that charity. That charity helps out families that have autistic children and also helps public awareness.”
While the Glenville Volunteer Fire Company will continue to sell the T-shirts until they run out, it hopes the majority will be sold in April, so that way people can wear them during Autism Awareness Month and raise awareness.
“So far, the sales have gone pretty well,” Caldwell said. “Between the general public and members of the fire company that decided to purchase one for themselves and their family members, we have sold a good number of T-shirts.”
The T-shirts are available in sizes small to extra-large. The cost is $25, payable by cash or check, and the shirts can be picked up at the Glenville Fire House. To purchase a shirt, email Caldwell at email@example.com.