Every now and then, a journalist is blessed to be there at the start of something good, something that has lasting value to the community.
Such was the case of the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, the brainchild of the Rev. Rob Dewey, as he struggled to find a way to marry his call from God and his passion for police work. One had led him to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Johns Island, and the other was his profession before he went to seminary.
As assistant rector and youth minister of the small rural church, he spent some of his free time volunteering as a police chaplain for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. He realized that law enforcement officers frequently require support and counseling when dealing with high-stress situations.
He also saw that there was a need for a police chaplain on the scene after a shooting or other disaster who could respond to family members and take some of the burden away from the officers.
What was needed was the same skill he had developed as a pastor: grief and family counseling.
In the beginning, he knew he had to raise his own salary and living expenses before he could begin this new ministry, and he did it will a lot of prayer and conversations with people who supported him.
So in 1990, he launched the chaplaincy with the go-ahead from his bishop and Sheriff Al Cannon.
The fact that the services were so badly needed was quickly illustrated when there was an explosion at the Albright & Wilson Americas Inc. plant that killed six people and injured 33 others.
Dewey had his trial by fire, literally, as he stayed on the scene and relayed information to family members, and served for the first time as a liaison between the police and the media to get the word out from the scene.
Years later, those same skills would come into play again after 9/11, when Dewey went to New York to work with the families of those killed in the Twin Towers.
That the chaplaincy is still in existence 21 years later is a testament to Dewey’s vision and those who have worked with him over the years, both as volunteer chaplains and as office and support staff.
On a daily basis, there are chaplains from various faiths on call to help with crisis calls. But just like in those early years, Dewey still has to raise the money to keep the organization alive, so they are trying something different. Instead of an annual banquet, there are a series of fundraisers.
There is a fish fry at Castaways Grille on James Island 5-7 p.m. Nov. 8 and a BBQ Fundraiser at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 in Mount Pleasant across from the Remleys Point boat ramp. You will have a chance to meet some of the folks who serve our community thoughtfully, and make sure that this very important service continues for the next person in need.
To RSVP, call 724-1212.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5557.