SEA ISLE CITY — A $15,000 cardio-pulmonary resuscitation machine is beyond the financial reach of the all-volunteer Sea Isle City ambulance corps. The amount, in dollars, is daunting.
But in terms of $10 jars of honey, $25 matted photographs and $40 handmade, inlaid pens, it seems more attainable. And so, on Saturday and Sunday, the 40-plus member squad took its first step away from relying exclusively on donations, holding a craft show to bolster its budget.
“Due to the rising costs of everything and needing to raise money, we wanted to do something different rather than a boot drop,” said Kris Lynch of Ocean View, chief of what she called “the last true volunteer corps” in Cape May County. A tough economy, declining volunteerism and stricter state regulations for qualifying as an EMT are among the challenges the squad faces.
The two-day event, held at the Community Building on JFK Boulevard, featured goods handmade by 42 local vendors, including a few volunteer EMTs, paramedics and a nurse. It netted the squad about double its modest goal of $500.
Additional funds were expected to be raised through a Chinese auction with prizes donated by local businesses. Those funds will be used to keep equipment updated, Lynch said. Funds raised at future events, perhaps a barbecue and more craft shows, could go toward purchasing items on the squad’s long wish list, including the coveted CPR machine.
Valerie Jerue of Ocean View, an AtlantiCare paramedic who has volunteered on and off with Sea Isle’s ambulance squad for about 10 years, was among the crafters participating in her first show. She said her custom acrylic paintings, which feature vibrantly colored geometric designs, were inspired by “living with bare walls” and not wanting to pay $400 for a painting she admired.
“I’ve always been artsy,” she said, “so I started doing my own art.”
Jerue said the death of her grandfather, who died of brain cancer, was the galvanizing force that drove her to join the squad when she was 15. “I didn’t know how to help him when he was sick, and that hurt me.”
Tami Fralick and Daron Laricks, both of Ocean View, also were participating in their first craft show. Fralick, a nurse, and Laricks, a full-time police dispatcher for Sea Isle City and a volunteer EMT, were selling matted photographs of beach and nature scenes, including their favorite subject: lighthouses.
“It relieves the stress of our jobs,” Laricks said of photography as a hobby. “Plus, when we travel, we get to take more pictures, which is cool. It helps take our minds off of other things.”
For Karl Geary, of Linwood, selling homemade, inlaid pens at the show on Sunday was a good way to spend his 61st birthday. A paramedic for 28 years, Geary was participating in his first craft show. He said the venue had given him an opportunity to meet a lot of people and receive a lot of compliments.
Gary Schempp, of Dias Creek, Middle Township, is a more seasoned participant in such events. A beekeeper and owner of Busy Bees, Schempp occasionally attends farmers markets and other shows to expand the market for his honey bee products.
“I have a saying: If I stay home, I make no money,” Schempp said in assessing his sales at the Sea Isle event. “I met some nice people, I sold some honey and I got to talk about bees. It’s a sweet day.”
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