It was a call to service 10 years ago that spurred Drew Buckner and his wife, Brenda, to start the Braveheart Chaplain Ministry, and it’s the need for further service, for better or worse, that drives the organization into its second decade.
Buckner, 59, provides an invaluable service to those in the Flathead Valley experiencing some of life’s darkest moments as one of the area’s law enforcement-affiliated chaplains. He is the one who comforts and guides grieving families, at all hours of the day, not long after an unexpected death — including homicides, suicides and car accidents — and counsels first responders who have witnessed those horrifying scenes. It is a job that few others are willing or equipped to handle, and while Buckner is a man of faith who can offer spiritual guidance, the ministry supports people of all or any religious leaning.
Since the Buckners began Braveheart, the Flathead Valley has experienced major population growth, and with it has come a larger need for first responders to be deployed. That means more of the scenarios that Buckner needs to respond to, which has prompted Braveheart to add two volunteer chaplains in the last year, both of whom work out of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, and the ministry is also working to incorporate a couple other volunteer chaplains in Lake County. At some point, Buckner, who is the sole paid employee of the 501(c)3 nonprofit, would like to bring another chaplain onto the payroll, and to do so he would need the community’s help to pay both salaries.
Braveheart has subsisted on community fundraising from the beginning and this year is no different, except, of course, for the coronavirus pandemic. So the group’s largest single event, the third annual Hero Gala, has been moved online and will kick off with a video presentation at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. Tickets start at $25, although guests are encouraged to buy more than one ticket with the money they are saving on “formal attire, shoes, hairstyling and more,” and early bird tickets are now on sale. Those purchasing an early bird ticket before Oct. 10 are entered into a drawing to win cash prizes up to $1,000. Corporate sponsorships are also available.
For more information on the Hero Gala or the Braveheart Chaplain Ministry, visit www.braveheartministry.com.
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