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Carolina Village honored for supporting city firefighters' continuing education

Carolina Village on Wednesday received the LeadingAge North Carolina award for Excellence in Community Service on Wednesday for a program that has helped more than two dozen Hendersonville firefighters receive continuing education.

This year’s awards were presented at a luncheon during LeadingAge’s annual conference at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The award recognized the innovation and collaboration between Carolina Village and the Hendersonville Fire Department, which began more than 10 years ago.

“I was having lunch with the Fire Chief and other firefighters those many years ago and I asked how we could give back to show our appreciation for all that HFD has done for Carolina Village,” Carolina Village Executive Director Kevin Parries said. “Out of that conversation came the Tuition Reimbursement program.”

Through the program, Carolina Village supports HFD members by continuing their lifelong learning endeavors. Many HFD firefighters have taken courses across a wide range of programs, which has helped them grow within the department. Over the past 10 years, Carolina Village has assisted 26 members of the department in classes and programs, paying $57,398.95 in tuition and book reimbursements. Every one of these students completed their coursework with an A. The department currently has four firefighters pursuing higher education through the program.

“Our residents appreciate all HFD has done for them throughout the years,” Parries said. “They are always there when an alarm rings and they do it with a smile. They show up for the false alarms, and we have a lot of them. I suspect some of our ladies overcook their bacon and popcorn on purpose, just so they can get to see the firefighters.”

HFD also responds to resident falls, strokes, heart attacks and other medical emergencies. In 2021 alone, HFD responded to 41 calls at Carolina Village.

“One of the many reasons Carolina Village continues this partnership is because we want individuals who are responding to our residents’ emergencies to have the most knowledge and best training possible,” Parries said. “It is our duty to help support that cause. I have always said that the Hendersonville Fire Department has some of the best and most talented individuals on its force. I don’t mean just locally. I mean that HFD is one of the best in our state, one of the best in our country.”

LeadingAge North Carolina, based in Raleigh, is an association of nonprofit providers of aging services. The association has 69 nonprofit member communities statewide that include continuing care retirement communities/life plan communities and affordable housing providers.