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The 700 Club

First Responders in Need of Help

Matt Vilkas - 700 Club Producer

Elizabeth City, NC

Saving lives is the biggest reward for first responders as they put others before themselves.

Edie Rowland explained, “If it’s a burning house, you run in! That’s just what you do. If it’s a car upside down in a ditch, you go inside that car and get that person out. You think about the consequences afterwards.”

Robert Rowland said, “It felt good to be able to give back and help someone out.”

Robert and Edie Rowland were both EMTs for more than 15 years in North Carolina. They actually met on the job and later married. Over the years, lifting people and heavy objects took a serious toll on their necks and backs.

Edie said, “I’ve had two vertebrae in my neck replaced. I’ve got cadaver’s discs, titanium steel plate and screws.” 

Robert said, “It’s been really hard, really hard. Not being able to move certain days, not being able to walk.”

Unable to keep working as EMTs, they did their best to find different jobs to support their family, but eventually, Robert couldn’t work anymore. Then Edie lost her job in retail.

While holding back tears, Edie said, “We had lights that were getting ready to be cut off. And they couldn’t for a few months, because of the COVID rule, but then if you can’t have a job, you can’t catch up.”

Their church and others pitched in to help, but buying food for themselves and their son was still a struggle, until Edie met a woman from a church down her block.

Edie explained, “She told me that they do give away food once in a while. I said, ‘Well, here’s my number! Give me a call!’ And she did!”

Operation Blessing provides food to Eastern Star Church, which has multiple monthly distributions.   

“It’s something different every time you go,” said Edie. “One time we got chicken, one time we got bacon, one time we got ham. It’s always something good!”

It’s a chance to help a hurting community, and a family that sacrificed so much for it.

Edie said, “I’m not used to having people do for me like that.”

Robert said, “Just really appreciate it. It means a lot.”

“Operation Blessing has been the best thing for us,” said Edie. “There’s no words to really say how it feels to not have anything, and then you go down there, and they load you up! All in all, it’s been a blessing every way around.”

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