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GA Battalion Chief Attempts to Rescue Troubled Youths

GA Battalion Chief Attempts to Rescue Troubled Youths

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Atlanta Journal Constitution via YellowBrix

June 03, 2010

GWINNETT COUNTY, GA – A Gwinnett County firefighter’s mission is to save lives in a broader context: He has moved beyond emergency response to early intervention.

Battalion Chief Eddie Myers, whose wife is a Loganville private school administrator, recognized a need for positive role models in schools. Two years ago, he created FLAME (Firefighter Lunch and Mentoring Experience), a program that matches firefighters with elementary school children considered “at-risk” students because of poor attendance, disciplinary issues or failing grades.

About 45 firefighter volunteers from 15 stations meet monthly with students to talk and have lunch. The mentoring relationships keep the students accountable. Firefighters ask about recurring problems and track academic performance.

Myers, a surprised recipient of the Gwinnett Rotary Club’s Firefighter of the Year award on Tuesday, said the effectiveness of his program won’t be measured until the designated students reach middle school and high school.

“Really it’s just spending time with them and listening to them,” said Myers, younger brother of Gwinnett County Fire Chief Bill Myers. “It’s amazing what one-on-one attention can do.”

Myers and his wife, Angie, live in Walton County and have children who are 14, 16, 20 and 22. Part of the inspiration for the program came from Myers’ role as a dad.

FLAME began in the 2008-2009 school year with four elementary schools in Gwinnett County. It now reaches 26 schools and 88 students in the state’s largest public school system.