Local Woodworker Joins National Movement Honoring First Responders

Photo | Kari A. Martindale Woodworker Kristen Richards presents her handcrafted flag to Green Valley Station 25 on First Responders Day. Pictured (L to R) are Steven Smith, Donnie Bennett, Joe Meister, Kristen Richards, Mike Schlotthober and Scott Six.

Photo | Kari A. Martindale
Woodworker Kristen Richards presents her handcrafted flag to Green Valley Station 25 on First Responders Day. Pictured
(L to R) are Steven Smith, Donnie Bennett, Joe Meister, Kristen Richards, Mike Schlotthober and Scott Six.

National First Responders Day was Oct. 28. Local woodworker Kristen Richards participated in a nationwide challenge called Makers Never Forget that honors first responders. “A maker in Illinois had the idea to gather as many woodworkers,” said Richards, “to make a custom flag for their local first responders’ unit.”

Richards, whose business Lipstick & Sawdust is based out of Monrovia, scheduled a visit to Green Valley Station 25 where she presented the crew with her flag.

“I’d never heard of First Responders Day,” said Captain Donnie Bennett, who was on site to accept Richards’ flag, along with Firefighters Scott Six, Mike Schlotthober and Steven Smith and Technician Joe Meister.

Richards thanked the crew. “I appreciate you running into what we run away from.”

The little-known holiday was first celebrated in 2017, when Colorado approved a bill honoring first responders. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the United States is home to an estimated 4.6 million first responders, including firefighters, police, EMTs and paramedics.

In June 2019, a bipartisan resolution passed the US Senate to designate Oct. 28, 2019 as Honoring the Nation’s First Responders Day.

In response, said Richards, “A woodworking builder, blogger and podcast host out of Chicago, William Patrick of William Patrick Customs, felt moved to make a flag and deliver it to his local first responding department.”

Patrick’s goal for 2019 was to have 10 builders join him, Richards said, but “woodworkers from all 50 states (joined him). He got an overwhelming positive response from the community. It’s not an official organization, but woodworkers from across the world are a very tight-knit community.”

Woodworkers were challenged to interpret the American flag in their own vision.

“I wanted to create something very traditional, with the correct US flag proportions. To create a common 2-foot by 3-foot flag, I used some very inexpensive pine lumber (1x2s) and sanded them down. They were cut to size and I attached 13 rows to four brace supports on the back. I created a paint wash (part paint and part water) to paint each stripe. I created the wash so that the wood grain would show through and not be as pigmented as normal paint. I hand-drew and dremeled each star; this was the most time-consuming part.”

Richards, along with other woodworkers participating in the challenge, posted her flag to her Instagram account (@kristensawdust). She and many woodworkers posted photos of their flags during the woodworking process, after completion, and when being presented. They used the hashtag #makersneverforget.

“Social media helps bring all makers together,” said Richards, “but woodworkers have a special bond.”

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