VILLAGE OF MUKWONAGO - Being a police officer or firefighter can be stressful, even heartbreaking at times.
Chaplains help ease that pain, serving as a resource to officers and firefighters, their families and the larger community by assisting with death notifications, offering critical incident stress debriefing and providing a confidential ear.
That resource is now available to the Mukwonago Police and Fire departments, with last year's creation of a chaplain program.
The Revs. Kevin Clark of First Congregational Church and Robert Jadrnicek of LifePoint Church are chaplains in the program.
Clark has been with his church for almost three years. When he came to Mukwonago he spoke to village Police Chief Kevin Schmidt about the community's needs.
Clark suggested instituting a chaplain program, since he had been involved in a similar program in Illinois.
"He stopped and said he was really thinking about it lately," Clark said.
Mukwonago Fire Chief Mukwonago Fire Chief Jeffrey Stien, Jadrnicek, Clark and Schmidt started the process, and the village approved the program at the end of 2015.
The program is not funded by the village, and no budget was requested. Clark explained they wanted to get the program off the ground first and see what it developed into. Neither he nor Jadrnicek are compensated for their services; it is all done on a volunteer basis.
Last year, First Congregational Church of Mukwonago held a breakfast fundraiser and raised $1,300 for the program. The funds go toward ongoing training and continued supplies.
This year, to help raise awareness and money, the members of First Congregational Church of Mukwonago will hold a fundraising event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 27, at Pick 'n' Save, 1010 N. Rochester St.
Police and fire vehicles and equipment will be on display in the parking lot, as well as police and fire personnel to greet visitors.
There will also be giveaways for children from the police department and FCC.
Benefits to community, officers
Clark said law enforcement and firefighters are not trained in grief counseling. Although they are caring and compassionate, they are not trained to deal with a widow or parent of a deceased child.
Chaplains provide a confidential ear to those processing through a traumatic experience.
The chaplains are on call and help when they can. Clark said they helped plan National Night Out in Mukwonago and otherwise go for ridealongs and training as they're able.
"We are here when there is a need or a crisis or if someone needs a person to listen," Clark said.
"Our primary duty is to step in during a crisis and get people connected to their network of support; it is not meant to be long term, " he said.
Clark finds his volunteer work reward because he feels like he is filling a need and helping people who need it.
"People lost a loved one; it is the worst thing humanity has to offer, and we are there to provide tangible help," Clark said.