By Debbie Hall
More than 200 gathered in Stuart on July 18 after a civic group issued a call to action.
Sammy Hughes, vice president of the Patrick County Patriots, Inc., said the civic group’s mission is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, with emphasis on the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth amendments to said Constitution; to provide support, training, and organization to improve the preparedness of our fellow citizens; and upon activation by the Patrick County Sheriff, to provide armed defense to Patrick County and its citizens in time of need.”
Hughes said that means the group wants “to know what we can do to help the communities,” and support local first responders, including fire and rescue departments and the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office.
When the group began forming in January, “we went to each community in the county and got people involved. We have a core group of members in each community. Once we got our core groups set up, we were able to communicate with members in each community,” Hughes said.
Members in the core groups totaled 150 before the meeting, he said, adding that he anticipated the number of members to increase.
“We had 160 applications” on hand for prospective members, and all were gone before the meeting ended, Hughes said. “It’s a great turnout. We’re honored people have showed up like they have.”
A separate chapter was formed for women who want to get involved, Hughes said of the Patrick County Women Patriots.
Lisa Haycroft and Penny Keith provided information to women interested in joining.
“The men started well before the women’s group, but we do the same things,” Haycroft said.
Kurt Bozenmayer, who is treasurer of the organization and leader of the Woolwine group, said “we decided to create a group dedicated to the protection of our essential rights. We seek to organize and to train our able-bodied” residents to support and serve their communities.
If, for example, manpower is needed to help search for a missing person, Bozenmayer said group members could help.
“Our members will only be deployed on the authority of the sheriff,” he added.
“This group is about people that love Patrick County. Even more than that, it’s about people that love this country,” Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said, adding that he may call on the group to help during natural disasters, such as a flood. “I think of this as not just helping me but caring about and helping Patrick County.”
Van Rowe, who also was among the speakers, said he has started several successful initiatives in the 12 to 13 years he’s lived in the county, including a food pantry at the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Patrick Springs and a clothing ministry called The Jesus House.
“These ministries operate on a zero budget. If we need something, we pray about it, and if God doesn’t supply it, I don’t need it,” he said, adding that the group and those in attendance “are a strong, dedicated group of citizens.”
He also distributed information detailing the supplies needed to create a Disaster Supply Kit and encouraged residents to get involved.
“Sign up and give your pledge to support this community. We are family,” he said. “If there’s anything this community needs to do right now, it’s come together.”
The event also included information for those interested in prepping or learning about herbs, and members of the PatCoVa PAC manned a booth to help prospective voters register or change their polling places in case their address changed.
The importance of voting cannot be overemphasized, according to Bill Clark, a member of the PAC.
“We have to get this message out, not just in Patrick County,” Clark said, and encouraged those in attendance to talk to their families, friends and others about the importance of registering to vote and participating in the election.
The PAC manages a Facebook page at PatCoVa PAC.
For more information the Patrick County Patriots, email m.me/pcvapatriots or visit the group’s Facebook page.