160 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
There is plenty of reasonable parking ($5 event parking) in the garage across the street from Columbus Commons (Columbus Commons Parking Garage). If you have been around Columbus for years, it is the same location as the City Center parking from back in the day.
Free food for all:
Interview with Darrah Metz
Tell me about the dogs.
These guys are trained as therapy K-9s. We have been doing this program since March, 2017. Mattis was our first. We were the first in the state. There are only 6 in the country. We built our program from scratch. We focus on victim advocacy, mental health and trauma. We work a lot with victims of crime, those suffering from mental health illnesses, and/or maybe in crisis. Also, the lingering effects of trauma. For example, victims during a trial, a court case, a counseling session, etc. Our job is to interact in the moment to reduce stress and anxiety. We are the first in the state to have 3 dogs. We can account for about 70 agencies across our country that have implemented this program. It is spreading, but when you consider that there are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in America, still 70 is a small number. Our goal is to get the mission out. Policing isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago. We have to do better in our communities and meeting our communities half way. This is one of the ways we chose to do that at the Sheriff’s office.
How many people do you service?
I have over 500 hours of dedicated service with Mattis. I have been requested to do deployments with Mattis close to 300 times. If you multiply that by 3, we are getting up there and we are only in August. The fact that 1000 hours are being donated through our county to make our county better, our community feel safer and to make kids more resilient. That is what it is all about.
Are these your personal dogs?
They are owned by the Sheriff’s office. Mattis and Woodie were donated from breeders. Seargent Radcliff’s dog Kid, the standard poodle, is a trained therapy dog of his own. He donated her to the Sheriff’s office. Upon the dog’s retirement, Sheriff Baldwin will allow us to buy them for $1.
Surely the dogs don’t live at the Sheriff’s office.
They come home with us. They are with us 24/7. All their food, vet care, grooming and supplies are donated by community partnerships. We couldn’t do what we do without the community.
When they are off duty, are they just regular dogs?
When I go home, I take Mattis’ uniform off (his vest and his collar), my exact words are, “go be a dog.” I have another dog at home. They are thick as thieves. They play for hours. We all do a good job of keeping that balance for them.
If someone wants to donate or volunteer, how do they contact you?
Go to the Sheriff’s website. Click on programs, then therapy dog program and an email will be sent directly to our Sergeant. Here is the link: https://sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov/Programs/Therapy-Dog-Program
Sidebar: I am a dog lover! It was priceless seeing children interact with the K9 unit.
Why did you become a firefighter?
I work in the recruitment department. I am one of the first people that touch the youth and people who are looking for a career. I am a pivotal point in peoples, lives because they are trying to figure out where their passion lies. To be able to touch the youth that look like me (of color) is important to me, because I want them to realize it is an opportunity for everyone.
How long have you been serving?
It will be nine years in September that I have been a Columbus Fire Fighter, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), fire inspector, recruiter, and assisting with the board that interviews potential new hires. It changed my life to be looked at as a hero and to know the efforts I make in the community is changing someone’s life is priceless.
What is the criteria?
You need to be at least 17.5 years old at the time of application. You have to be at least 18 years at the time of hire or the conditional hire. You need to be a US citizen, not have any felonies, have a valid drivers license, and a high school diploma or GED. All requirements are listed on our website, www.columbus.gov/civilservice click on fire exams, then fire fighter.
We want you to reach out to us. If you have any general questions about what we do, our phone number is 614-645-6387. We have an opportunity where you can do ride alongs and you can view the recruits going through their daily routine. It is important to keep your nose clean, make good decisions, and know that every decision will affect your now as well as your future. We can schedule you at one of our fire houses or bring one of our trucks to your events.
What is the pay?
We will pay you about $60,00/year to attend the training academy, which is about 8 months long. Going into your 5th year, you are going to make around $90,000 /year.
We work 24 hours on and 48 hours off. That ends up being about 115 days a year. It is pretty cool to have that much time off to spend with your family and friends.
When you are scheduled to work and there isn’t a fire, what do you do?
You are supposed to be training, studying, hands on with the truck, chores around the house, community service, and public outreach.
Interview with Antonio Smith
Your name sounds familiar….
I played for OSU from 2002 to 2006. I played in the championship against Miami. Unfortunately with lost the game against Florida.
Give me an update. What are you doing now?
We (with Roy Hall) started the Driven Foundation. We have programs and services for underprivileged youth in central Ohio and around the state. We happen to be out here with one of our good partners celebrating the kids as they go back to school. It is all about giving our youth an opportunity to see ahead and preparing them to be great leaders.
What is the website?
https://staydriven.org/ This is our 10th year. We have been plugging away with many services such as food outreach, literacy, and mentorship. We have been in the position to help those who are less fortunate, provide opportunities where road blocks and challenges may exist. There is a lot to do out here and we are just trying to do our part.
How does a person volunteer?
The website, https://staydriven.org/ Also, follow us on social media, Driven Foundation on all social platforms.
Tell me about your group.
We work out of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department at Douglas Recreation Center. It is called Modeling with a Message.
It seemed like the message today was based on education. Is that the main message or do you pick a different message each time you perform?
We pick a different message each time we perform. We want to talk about breast cancer, bullying, black history, etc. Our children write their own message or they look up and recite messages to share with the community.
How does a young person or a volunteer become involved?
Show up to Douglas Recreation Center on Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm.
We work with children to build up their confidence and self esteem.
What is the age for participants?
6 to adult.
We also work with Black Nativity. I am the children’s director for that performance. We start working with the children in September.
My take: Great location! Great Price (FREE)! Great connections. Free merry-go-round rides, free soda, free water, free hot dogs, free ice cream, free information, free handouts, free music, free entertainment, etc. The volunteers were friendly. This was a family friendly event.