Volunteerism fuels honored volunteer’s passion to serve

GEORGETOWN — Mark Rogers’ job as a policeman brings home the bacon.

His passion is the volunteer fire service.

And another act of volunteerism – coaching the daughter of slain Georgetown Police Department patrolman Chad Spicer – brings tears to his eyes.

13 Q & A Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers, Georgetown fire chief and shift supervisor for the Georgetown Police Department, was honored last December as the town’s Volunteer of the Year.

“I coached my little girl’s T-ball in Georgetown. I coached my son as well then took a break,” he said. “I actually went back a little early because Officer Spicer’s daughter, Aubrey, when she started T-ball five years ago – her daddy wasn’t here. I coached her, because he would have done it. I stepped up and coached her.”

Mark Rogers, 45, is a lifelong Georgetown resident and a 1988 Sussex Central High School graduate.

With the Georgetown Police Department his rank is corporal and he is the department’s shift supervisor.

When the fire whistle blows at Georgetown Volunteer Fire Company Station 77, he wears the chief’s hat – something he has worn for about four years running.

He and his wife Kristi have a 6-year-old daughter, Haley, who attends Eagles Nest Christian School in Milton.

His son Hunter is a 911 dispatcher at the Sussex County EOC and has followed in his father’s footsteps as a volunteer firefighter.

Mr. Rogers is a member of the board of directors of the Chad Spicer Memorial Foundation, formed in support of the family of Patrolman Chad Spicer, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in September of 2009.

Mr. Rogers also volunteers as a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army during the holiday season.

In early December, in a stage ceremony prior to the Georgetown Christmas Parade that caught him totally by surprise, Mr. Rogers was honored as the town of Georgetown’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year.

“They tricked me,” he says. “I didn’t have a clue.”

Sussex County, meet Mark Roger:  Family man, policeman and firefighter.

Your path after high school was employment at DuPont. How is it you wound up in law enforcement?

“I went straight from there (high school) to DuPont in Seaford. I was there about 10 years or so. Then I got the layoff. That was 2001 when they had a big hit. They laid off about 700 people off. I was fortunate because in just a few months I started working for the town of Georgetown as code enforcement officer. I was there for just about two years and I got hired on for the Georgetown Police Department.”

Your family has a commitment to the fire service?

“My grandfather (Robert Rogers Sr.) was a member and so was my dad (Robert Rogers Jr.). My grandfather was actually a past fire chief. Basically as a small kid I remember my dad going to the fire house and I would go there with him. I knew this is what I wanted to do someday. I joined in 1989. You had to be 18 back then.”

“I am just completing my fourth year as chief. I was assistant chief several years. I have worked my way up the ladder, and am now currently the fire chief.”

Timewise, how do you balance being a family man, policeman and firefighter?

“The policeman’s job is what brings home the bacon – the money that supports me, my wife and gives us a nice home that we can live in. The fire service is my hobby and my true love. I was involved in it before I met my wife so she certainly understands.

“Family comes first. And I don’t go to every call when the whistle blows, even when I am off there are just times you have to put family first. I am fortunate that I work shift work so the majority of our fire calls – and I think it is like that throughout the county – are daytime about 8 to 5. So when I am off, my wife is at work, my daughter is at school, so it really doesn’t affect my family that much. I am lucky.”

What does volunteerism mean to you?

“It means helping people.”

What makes you tick?

“What makes me tick I think is the excitement. There is some bad with both sides; the fire company and the police you get to see some negative and bad things. But a lot of it on both sides you get to see more positives.”

“On the police side … recently we had a 4 year old and it took us about 15 minutes to find the child. The mother was so relieved – and it was no more than the child had walked down a couple houses and was playing. But just to see that mother, how she looked when we first got there and how she looked once we returned her child, how thankful she was.”

“On the fire company, I don’t know if people give volunteerism much credit. Delaware is at a high standard throughout the country as being great fire service. There are numerous lives that we save – that probably goes unsaid. It’s nice when you can help someone out.”

What does the Volunteer of Year award mean to you?

“It is an honor. I certainly appreciate it. When I compare myself to someone like Helen Kruger … I don’t think I’m as deserving. Helen volunteers for several, several organizations. She does it behind the scenes.”

Peer into your crystal: What does it say?

“Right now I plan on working here until I get my daughter in college. As long I stay healthy this (Georgetown Police Department) is where I’ll retire from. As far as the fire company I probably will be doing that until my health won’t let me. And I think having my son involved has motivated me even more to stay.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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