The "Walk of Memory" tucked behind the Providence Volunteer Fire Company station is far from complete.
But it's already full of stories, according to Garry Zour, administrative vice president of the company, which has served the greater Towson area and northeastern Baltimore County since 1947.
The 85-member company responds to more than 1,000 fire and emergency medical calls annually. "Neighbors protecting neighbors" is PVFC's motto.
Zour, 60, has been a PVFC volunteer since he was 16. "But I was hanging around the fire house long before that," he said, explaining that his father had been vice president of the company before him.
As it is with many of the volunteers, the fire service runs in the family, he said, noting his two sons are members of the company, too.
The Walk of Memory is just one of the projects PVFC has undertaken to raise money for a capital fundraising campaign the company began nearly five years ago.
The company needs $5 million to pay off the debt for improvements to the fire station, at 1416 Providence Road, and for its brand new Ladder Truck 297, which has a 109-foot ladder (the tallest in the county), and other equipment, Zour said.
"With the economy, we're way behind. People have been generous, but we've only taken in close to $200,000."
At this point, the volunteers are conducting their fundraising campaign one engraved brick at a time.
The company's new "Buy A Garden Brick" initiative invites citizens to buy a brick to pave the small plaza in front of the flowering plants next to the rear wall of firehouse. The memory walk is next to the public entrance to the station.
Bricks can be engraved to commemorate or honor a loved one or special individual, or mark a special occasion or convey a message. It's the donor's choice, Zour said.
The bricks come in four sizes, ranging from 4 inches by 8 inches to 2 feet square, with proportional space for engraving. The required donation ranges from $100 to $1,000, all tax deductible.
Foundation in families
Zour and his wife, Joanne, have donated a large brick in memory of their parents, "Mr. and Mrs. John Zour and Mr. and Mrs Philip Tumminelo."
"This marker is kind of a way to pay tribute to our parents," Zour said, noting his mother was involved in the company as well. She was a member of the PVFC Ladies Auxiliary.
Looking at the inscription makes him feel good, he said.
"My parents are buried in Nebraska, in the small town where my mother came from. I have an arrangement with a florist for special occasions, but I don't get back there to pay my respects that often."
Another brick is inscribed, "Fond Christmas memories!!! Santa on the fire truck, William J. O'Meara family."
Having Santa ride through neighborhoods on a fire truck "is one of the best things we've ever done," said Zour, who played him for a number of years. "It's our way of giving back to the community."
Another square marked "Mike and Diana Kernan, It all started here," was put there by the couple's children and their spouses.