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Israel’s EMS Volunteers Rush to Aid Victims of Hamas Terror

Just weeks ago, the volunteers of United Hatzalah, Israel’s premier all-volunteer emergency medical service organization, were celebrating a member who saved the life of a three-year-old boy who suffered cardiac arrest at a park.

On Saturday, many of those same volunteers found themselves coming to the aid of men, women, and children across Israel in the wake of the most deadly terror attack in their nation’s history.

“It was immediate,” Jeremy Cole with United Hatzalah of Israel told DCJournal. “United Hatzalah has an average 92-second response time throughout Israel. That’s done through our nearly 7,000 volunteers and our immense technological capabilities used to auto-locate and dispatch our volunteers. So, we were able to respond almost instantly and work alongside the deployed forces that were out there fighting the war as we were treating them on the front lines.”

United Hatzalah is a nonprofit, volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) organization that helps people free of charge. It has treated more than five million people since 2006 and 675,000 last year alone.

Last fall, the organization also partnered with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in a joint training drill simulating a missile strike on a kibbutz – an intentional community in Israel. A second simulated missile strike hit during the exercise. United Hatzalah said at the time that it was important to prepare for any scenario and the chaos that might happen during it.

Cole was impressed by the selflessness of the volunteers in the warzone. “We just had one of our paramedics in an ambu car…that was riddled with AK-47 bullets. Thankfully, he was okay and managed to survive and continue to go on to save lives after that. But putting yourself in harm’s way in a role that’s primarily focused on saving lives as a medic is so unbelievably selfless.”

Other nonprofits are also involved in the effort. The Jewish National Fund USA (JNF-USA), a group that plans developments in Israel and the Negev Desert, provided food and water to IDF soldiers and families in Gaza.

JNF-USA released data this week showing most Gaza refugees have been fleeing to the Arava community along the Israel-Jordan border. JNF’s Arava Emergency Response Center (ERC) volunteers have been protecting the refugees.

“The people who they are guarding…are the people of the emergency response and the volunteers,” Noa Zer, Director of Resource Development, Central Arava Regional Council, said during a briefing. ERC volunteers are also involved in providing medical assistance to the wounded and evacuating them from danger.

The group also provided equipment, including encrypted radios and 115 security volunteer kits featuring bulletproof vests, helmets, and tactical clothing. It also set up bomb shelters across Israel in hopes of protecting people from any attacks. Unfortunately, 260 people hiding in one JNF-USA shelter were killed by a Hamas bomber.

“I have no words to describe how this makes me feel and all of us feel,” said Dr. Sol Lizerbram, JNF-USA president, in a separate briefing on the group’s work. “This is beyond the depths of evil.”

Hundreds have died, and thousands have been injured since the war started. It has caused the International Committee of the Red Cross to warn that “a humanitarian disaster” is likely if both parties don’t show restraint. The United Nations also asked for humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Defense Minister Yav Gallant said, “We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly…We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything will be closed.”

What won’t be closed is the work being done by volunteers. They promise to keep working despite the first war in Israel in decades. A war that does not distinguish between military, Israeli, and Palestinian civilians or the paramedic hiding in a kitchen as bullets fly around her.

“Our number one goal is to save any life we can, no matter who the person is,” said Cole. “And that we have a dedicated base of volunteers that are doing that right now…We need help with gaining supplies to continue to tourniquet legs and repair bullet wounds and defibrillate elderly and those infirm and sick and transport people to hospitals.”

Chester County Volunteers Mark Pennsylvania Day and Celebrate Upcoming 250th Anniversary of U.S.

Some Chester County candidates and officials took part in a day of service on July 20, Pennsylvania Day, as part of the celebration leading up to America’s 250th birthday in 2026.

Pennsylvania Day marks the day the commonwealth joined the United States.

America250PA, Chesco America250PA Commission, and Chesco250 invited residents to participate in several volunteer opportunities throughout the county. Chester County received a National Pennsylvania Day mini-grant from America250PA for one of the projects, the Sandy Hollow/Thornbury Farm Brandywine Battlefield Site Clean-Up.

Commissioner Michelle Kichline is the county’s liaison to the America 250 Commission.

Chester County has celebrated Pennsylvania Day for three years with various activities. This year Kichline planted parsley and hacked down thorny bushes in a field where a local food bank is growing vegetables for people who don’t have access to healthy food.

It also partners with Keeping Pennsylvania Clean to pick up litter from parks.

“And we are preparing for the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of our country,” said Kichline. “Chester County was the first county.” It was named under a land grant from William Penn and also included Delaware County, which later broke away. That is why the City of Chester is named Chester, she added.

“So, we really think Chester County should be one of the celebration’s highlights,” said Kichline.

David Sommers, a Republican candidate for Chester County Commissioner, said, “Today was a great opportunity to give back to our community through service. To be a part of the America250PA event at Chester County Sandy Hollow Heritage Park was both rewarding and educational. The site played an important role in 1777 at the Battle of Brandywine during the American Revolutionary War.”

Volunteers at Sandy Hollow Heritage Park

Chester County joined various counties, towns, cities, states, federal agencies, and other groups around the country to celebrate the 250th anniversary—the Semiquincentennial– of the founding of the United States on July 4, 2026. Other activities marking the anniversary will take place in the coming years leading up to the historic founding of the republic.

And Roy Kofroth, the Republican candidate for Chester County sheriff, said, “The America 250 PA was such a great volunteer event. It gets volunteers from all over the county involved in projects that are crucial to maintaining our county. The project I had the opportunity to do was clearing a trail from Thornbury Farms to Sandy Hollow Heritage Park. This allows better access for visitors. I enjoyed the time I had with all the volunteers and will continue to do this in the upcoming years.”

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Delaware County Seeking Volunteers to Help Develop Don Guanella Master Plan

From a press release

For the first time in more than 30 years, Delaware County is getting a new County park. The county’s newest and largest county park will be located on the former Don Guanella site in Marple Township. The 213 acre park will be focused on the woodlands that now serve as one of the county’s largest forests.

Public input is a cornerstone of the project and will guide key elements of the plan. Delaware County is seeking fifteen community leaders to join the new Master Plan Advisory Committee for the former Don Guanella property. The new committee is part of a public planning process that began earlier this year in order to engage the public in the planning process for the conservation and public use of the 213-acre property.

The committee will meet an estimated six to eight times with the consulting team and key stakeholders from Delaware County through March 2023. Members will provide information, ideas, and perspectives to help develop a plan for the new park. The master plan, to be completed in the Spring of 2023, will be the guiding document that identifies long-term conservation, woodland protection, infrastructure, and recreation improvements for the future county park

“We are thrilled to begin planning work on the former Don Guanella site and we’d like to hear the community’s vision for what our newest and largest County park and forest could be,” said Elaine Schaefer, county Council vice-chair and liaison to the County’s  Parks and Recreation Department. “The property is already a cherished regional destination for many residents and we are excited to think big and expand opportunities for park users that are inclusive and forward-thinking. We want people of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds to feel welcome in our parks. That starts with hearing from the public.”

The future park consists of 213 acres and is home to woodlands, wetlands, grassland, and many wildlife species. The creation of a park on the Don Guanella tract is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create an open and accessible public space that will provide immediate and ongoing economic, environmental and quality of life benefits to Delaware County.

In June 2021, the County announced its intention to acquire the 213-acre Don Guanella parcel after its development into housing and institutional use was unanimously rejected by the Marple Township Board of Commissioners and opposed by the planning commission. In March 2022, Delaware County Council approved and funded a proposal to create a plan to transform the property into the largest public park in the county.

Members of the public will also have a chance to share their input and opinion through surveys, public meetings, and events even if they are not serving on the advisory board.  More information regarding ways to participate will be posted on the county’s website.


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Future Firefighters Complete Final Exercises Toward Certification

From a press release

Nineteen students completing the latest Chester County Firefighter I Training Course conducted final firefighting exercises at the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus.  The exercises covered search and rescue, indoor firefighting, fire attack types, auto fires, dumpster fires, and stages of fires. All exercises represent the final steps needed to complete the 188-hour classroom and practical skills certification.

Chester County’s current Firefighter I class includes 17 men and two women, the majority of whom are college students who are adding the important first responder certification to their other qualifications.

Sophia Crossan, a West Grove resident who is a rising sophomore studying neuroscience at Villanova University, said, “I have been involved in emergency medical services and while I was hesitant to take the firefighting course, I absolutely love it.”

“There is so much that is covered, and as I really enjoy any type of STEM learning, the areas that really interest me are fire behaviors, the way fires work and studying the effects of different burning materials.  I really enjoy the first responder aspect of my life,” Crossan added. 

Oxford resident Eddy Chavez, who is a rising sophomore studying business management at Arizona State University, has been in the fire service with Oxford Union Fire Company for almost a year.  “With this course, I can take on more responsibilities in firefighting, including going into burning buildings and packing up,” he noted.

The need for firefighters across the state and the nation is at an all-time high. In Chester County, most firefighters are volunteers, which adds to the challenges of recruitment and retention of firefighters.

Matt Fink, Chester County Department of Emergency Services Fire Training Officer and leader of the Firefighter I course said, “As with many other organizations that rely on – and are looking for – volunteers, we struggle to replace those firefighters who are retiring out of service.  But students like those on this course learn so much more than the necessary academic and practical firefighting skills.  They experience the benefits of becoming teammates, working together, trusting each other, and backing up each other, which are all valuable life lessons.

“The Firefighter I training course is available year-round, and we certainly encourage others – especially students – to find out more about the certification.  It is one of the best ways to give back to your community,” added Fink.

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Republicans Working to Get Out the Vote Prior to May 17 Primary

Today, May 2, is the last day register to vote or to change parties. And the Pennsylvania Republicans are gearing up for a Red Wave this fall.

Their Pennsylvania Victory Team has made more than 1 million voter contacts made this cycle, according to Rachel Lee, Republican National Committee northeast regional communications director.

Volunteers across the state gathered for Operation Red Wave on April 23rd to get out the vote ahead of the May 17 primary. Working with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, the RNC has been on the ground since 2016 and never left, said Lee. This has paved the way for increases in voter registration and volunteers.

“Ahead of the Republican primary, the RNC’s permanent, data-driven ground game is mobilizing activists, registering voters, and multiplying our efforts in the commonwealth every day. Keystone State Republicans are fired up and will not be outworked to turn out in force at the polls in May and, ultimately, deliver victories up and down this ballot this November,” said Lee.

One of those volunteers is Liz Preate Havey, who chairs the Montgomery County Republican Committee and the secretary for the Republican State Party.

I grew up with a father (former Attorney General Earnest Preate Jr.) who was involved in Republican politics,” said Havey. “Conservative values, I just grew up in. I’m pro-life, and I believe in limited government. I’ve never wavered for that, even though I went to University of Pennsylvania Law School, which is extremely liberal.”

“One of the reasons I decided to take a step up and lead in Montgomery County has to do with my children,” said Havey. “It’s so one-sided where I live in Lower Merion. It’s so progressive and woke. And they’re in the public schools, and they only get one side. I thought they needed to see that it was important to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means they get negative pushback. I get it from people that live in Lower Merion. They’re nasty to me. I wanted them to know if you believe in something important, you’ve got to stand up and fight for it.”

Her kids are 19, 17 and 13.

“I’ve been volunteering as a committee person since before they were born,” she said. “I took on leadership roles in the last eight years. And this one was a bigger step up.”

“It is fulfilling. I’ve met so many incredible people and had interesting experiences that I would have never had if I didn’t volunteer,” said Havey. “I’ve learned a lot about the region, driven to all parts of the county. I’ve had an awful lot of fun with some nice people who share my values.”

Robin Medeiros also volunteers for the Republican Party, and she’s passionate about it.

Robin Medeiros

While she’s been volunteering for years, “it’s taken off in the last two years,” she said. “I dedicate quite a lot of time to the Republican Party at this point.”

A real estate agent who lives near Scranton, she is president of the Margery Scranton Council of Republican Women and the Pennsylvania Federation of Republican Women. We rally for all of the candidates. Any free time I have is now dedicated to that.”

She and her husband moved to the Scranton area from Massachusetts 30 years ago, following his job in the munitions industry.

“We’ve done so many things from petition signings to get everyone on the ballot to doing the door-to-door knocking,” said Medeiros. “Last weekend alone, just on Saturday, we had a call to action, Operation Red. We touched with over 50,000.” “People come to candidates’ events, and say, ‘I want to volunteer,’ and we reach out to them, and they join the group of volunteers.”

“In the last two years, we’ve switched and 200,000 voters (statewide), and young people are getting involved,” she said. “And that’s awesome. People are switching from Democrat to Republican.”  However, as of April 18, there were 4 million registered Democrats and 3.4 million registered Republicans in Pennsylvania, according to the Department of State.

She hears that folks are concerned about the economy and gas prices.

“People are suffering out there,” she said. “And the border. That’s such an issue with the influx of people coming over the border and the fentanyl that’s coming into the country through the border because it’s insecure, and we’re losing a lot of our younger people to fentanyl…And it’s not just drug addicts. It’s recreational. People are trying it one or two times, and they’re dying because it’s laced with Fentanyl.”

“America’s in real trouble here,” she said.

Meanwhile, in this election cycle, the Pennsylvania Victory Team has held more than 1,400 Republican Leadership Institute trainings with nearly 9,000 people attending and has recruited or activated more than 38,000 volunteers. For Operation Red, the RNC contacted more than 50,000 voters.

The party also hosted a Black business expo, showcasing 15 local small businesses for 80 attendees held at the RNC’s Black American Community Center in Philadelphia.  Some of the people who came to that event also changed their party or registered to vote for the first time.

Meanwhile, the RNC has more than three dozen staff on the ground in the state with more on the way.

They also opened an Allentown Hispanic Community Center for strategic engagement as well as the Philadelphia Black American Community Center for strategic engagement.

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