Changing the community one volunteer at a time

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, January 18, 2024

Volunteer fireman Willie “Dope” Stringer, Sr., is no stranger to being a first responder and he understands the major responsibility that title includes – being able to help others. The veteran volunteer said it does not matter what a person does, whether it be making survivors feel safe after an accident, helping people out of burning buildings, giving community youth candy at events, or cleaning the fire station. 

Willie and his wife Wyvonnia live in Collierene and serve with the Collirene Volunteer Fire Department (VFD). He believes that there is something for every person to do to help their fellow community members. 

“At the Collirene Volunteer Fire Department, there are always open spots for those who want to help,” he said. “You don’t have to have the courage to run inside house fires or be on the scene at every accident. We are just looking for people to try. People that are willing to help, whether that be on the scene or as board members. No role is too small.”

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Willie joined the Collirene VFD in 2008. As a concerned member of the community, Stringer said he saw the need for a fire department at a time when Collirene didn’t have one and once established, he used his connections to help those involved in serving the Collierene community.

 Wyvonnia is now retired but once worked all over Lowndes County as a teacher. She currently serves as president of the Collirene VFD. Just like Willie, she believed that a fire department would greatly benefit the community. 

“Before our fire department even existed, I would see so many houses getting burned down and I spoke with our county commissioner and told him that we needed a fire department to help our community members,” Wyvonnia said. 

Through it all, Willie regards his role as a volunteer firefighter one of his most rewarding duties.

“As volunteers, we are trained to help people when they are in danger,” Willie said. “Being able to help members in my community feel safe is the number one goal. We respond when the people need us and nothing beats the look of relief on their faces when they realize they are in good hands.”

He urges community members to get involved with their volunteer departments. It’s possible that anyone could be of service to their community.

“No role is too big or too small. All that matters is getting involved,” Willie said. “Whatever you feel could be helpful is highly appreciated. Help us help the community at the Collierene Volunteer Fire Department.”