PICAYUNE, Miss. (WLOX) - Steve Seal is just about everything in this community: firefighter, volunteer fire chief and nurse.
On Friday, he was the chief cook for an organization he respects: Moses Cook Lodge No. 111.
“It’s a bunch of good men in the community that help lead things and charitable events,” he said.
He knows first-hand how much this kind of outreach can mean to those who willingly face tough challenges every day.
“It’s an emotional job. You see a lot of bad things, and it’s always good to give back to the guys that you end up with,” he said. “And it makes you feel good to help people, and some of the things that you see are sometimes hard to deal with over time but it’s because of the group of people that you work with that makes it possible.”
Pitching in to help cook was fellow nurse and friend John Bertucci.
“I see a lot of first responders coming in bringing us patients,” he said. “They always bring us stuff. Now we get to bring them something.”
The lodge served first responders at Jack Reed Park with plenty of chicken and side dishes.
“They have a difficult job, and we respect that immensely,” said lodge master Lane Crawford. “And we just wanted to give a little bit of recognition that we could, and that was our main goal.”
Members of the Picayune Memorial High School softball team pitched in to help.
In this city, it’s easy to find support.
“This type of thing boosts the morale,” said Picayune Assistant Police Chief Dustin Moeller. “And the community here is very supportive of first responders, law enforcement, and we're very thankful.”
Mayor Ed Pinero echoed the sentiment.
“Everyone supports our police, fire, sheriff's department and highway patrol. Hands down,” he said. “We don’t have the issues that some places do.”
City manager and former police chief Jim Luke said that’s because with familiarity comes respect.
“This is small town America,” he said. “You’re liable to see firemen out doing projects with the kids. Police doing projects with the kids. I mean, everybody knows the officers, they know the firemen. They know them by name, and I think that connection is big.”