By Scott Phillips
It’s a day I will never forget, August 23, 2012. It was around 9:30 a.m. when the doorbell rang and I made my way down the steps, opened the door and was face to face with a Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy and two ladies.
A parent’s nightmare quickly unfolded. The deputy informed me that my youngest son, Wyatt, had been killed in a car accident. I can’t tell you with any clarity or certainty what I did in the next several hours, while another deputy looked for my wife to tell her the dreadful news. I talked with my oldest son, Zachary. I walked around the house dazed, and I was finally able to embrace my wife, when she was located and driven home by another deputy.
As those moments passed by, there was one constant present during that day—the calmness, compassion and sage advice of the two Kent County Victim’s Advocates who remained with us. Although they were strangers, I trusted them implicitly. I honestly don’t know what I, or my wife, would have done without their help. It wasn’t until January 10, 2013, that we were able to meet this wonderful group of Volunteers who are trained by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in helping families of tragedies.
Two Cedar Springs High School students, Charlie Saylor and Michael Stoken, had raised money by selling memorial bracelets honoring Wyatt’s life. We could think of no better recipient for the funds than the Kent County Community Action Group. On January 10, we had the honor of presenting a check for $600.00 to the group at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Victims Advocacy Division. My wife, Danielle, gave a passionate speech of gratitude for the difficult job these volunteers chose and thanking them for their strength and dedication in helping our family.
The Kent Sheriff’s Department offers several volunteer opportunities such as the Citizen’s Police Academy, Courtesy Trail Patrol, Handicap Enforcement, Traffic Squad, as well as the Victims Impact Unit that was made up of the officers and volunteers that helped our family. The Cedar Springs community is a supportive and gracious community. If you feel the desire to get involved in this effort with your donation or volunteer hours, we encourage you to look at their website http://www.accesskent.com/CourtsAndLawEnforcement/SheriffsDepartment/ or contact the Volunteer Department at (616) 632-6100.