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May Our Loss Lighten the Burden of Those in Need

Early in life, I realized there are only two types of people: You are either a Taker or a Giver. For people who knew our son, Eric, it did not take long to understand what type of person he was. The best example I can give is when he was in Junior High, he became fast friends with another boy who, let’s just say, did not fit in. He was not part of the clique, and we all know kids can be cruel at times. One day, Eric’s mom picked him up after a visit with his new friend, and the mother invited Connie in to listen to the noise level in their home. Laughter was everywhere! The mother just wanted to thank us for allowing Eric into their lives, because she never thought she would hear her boy laugh like that.

 And now, fast forward to April 19, 2010 and, in the blink of an eye, Eric is taken from us in a terrible auto accident.

 I can see in my mind’s eye, so clearly, Eric walking in the door almost every Sunday afternoon wanting to know how our week went, down on the floor playing with our dog, Heidi. What we would give to have one more Sunday. Loved ones are not supposed to die like this, and all we have left are our warm and wonderful memories. Apparently, God had other plans for Eric, but from a selfish point of view, that’s not good enough, and Eric deserves more. My only goal in life now is to make sure Eric is not just in our memories. Good hearted people deserve more: Eric deserves more. Eric gave so much to so many; if he were here, he would continue to give and, so, we do this for him.

 My idea was to do something for the community in Eric’s memory, something that would help other families in crisis, but I was not sure where to start. My first stop was to Mayor Jack Woods, who listened to my plan to purchase Eric’s house and donate the property to fire victims, abused children and others in crisis. The Mayor listened and guided me to Bruce Waters and Skip Ockomon, members of “The Madison County Fire Rescue House,” an organization which has already provided one home for fire victims, in the Anderson area. Through my tears, I explained my plan, and Skip’s response was simple and profound: “If you donate this house in Eric’s memory, it will benefit families in northern Madison County who fall victim to a domestic fire, for years in the future; you have my promise.” Compassion from this group, from volunteers, and from our special friends, is the reason we are able to continue during this difficult time.

 In closing, Connie and I had the idea, but this has been a true joint effort from so many people that we cannot list them all. We are proud to know that some day, when a family is in crisis, they will be staying in this home, in Eric’s home, where he would have welcomed them in with open, giving arms.

 They will see Eric’s picture on the wall and wonder, “Who is this person?”                                                    You are looking at a Giver, and we were blessed to call him Son.

 In honor of our loving son, Eric,

Frank and Connie Caldwell

July 13, 2010


The above heartfelt words written by Frank and Connie have touched our hearts. It is with great pride that we at the Madison County Firefighters Foundation will move forward and further extend the Rescue to the Caldwell House for Fire Victims. This 2nd Fire Rescue House for Madison County was purchased July 13, 2010 and will be dedicated July 26, 2010. For information on how you can be a part of the Fire Rescue House Project, contact Skip Ockomon at 765-425-1936 or Jennifer Brumback at 765-683-1302. Or, to make a donation, send payments to the Madison County Community Foundation at 33 W. 10th Street, Suite 600, Anderson, IN 46016, with Mad. Co. FRH in the memo line.


Photos from the build and dedication of the Fire Rescue House in Madison County, IN.

Rescue House To Be Dedicated September 11th

The Herald Bulletin

September 5, 2009

By Brandi Watters, Staff Writer 

ANDERSON - Barbecue-scented smoke from a round, black broiler grill filled the air near old Anderson Fire Station 4 Saturday, tempting passers-by with pulled pork.

The hog roast was one of many fundraisers held over recent months in an attempt to raise money for the construction of a county rescue house.

The project is nearly complete, as evidenced by the foundation and floor waiting for a home on the once-vacant lot next to old station 4 at 830 W. Third St.

Once built, the fire rescue house will be a temporary home for families displaced by fire.

The man behind the effort, Anderson firefighter Skip Ockomon, snacked on his second plate of pulled pork as the event wound down Saturday. Ockomon reported that the pork had netted another $600 for the cause.

So far, about $40,000 in cash has been raised for the rescue house. Much of that was used to buy the land where the foundation now sits.

The home waiting to be constructed was donated by Ready Corporation, which builds homes that can be assembled in days, instead of months.

Walls come packaged in cardboard boxes and roll into place along metal tracks.

The home is now sitting in pieces in the garage of the old fire station, waiting for volunteers to pull it together.

Edward Gibbs, an Edgewood volunteer firefighter, helped take down tables at the hog roast on Saturday and has been helping fire officials get the rescue house built nearly every day.

Ockomon said the 21-year-old works the graveyard shift at his regular job and then dedicates his time to the rescue house effort. 

“I believe in a good cause, just want to be around to help,” Gibbs said.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help assemble the fire rescue house should call Skip Ockomon at 425-1936.

Ockomon estimated that walls would be erected this Tuesday and Wednesday, just in time for a dedication to take place on Sept. 11.

The dedication will double as a ceremony to honor police and firefighting personnel who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City.

The event, which will take place at 2 p.m., is expected to be attended by fire chiefs from around the county.

On Sept. 26, Ockomon and fire officials will attempt to raise more funds for the fire rescue house at an auction, dance and ribfest at the Paramount Theatre from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Contact Brandi Watters 640-4847, brandi.watters@heraldbulletin.com.