$40,000 donation

Karen Smith-Stegehuis, EMT supervisor at Twin Township Ambulance, poses last summer for a photo in front of the ambulance company's home in downtown New Lothrop.

NEW LOTHROP — The staff at Township Township Ambulance can’t stop smiling.

About 10 days ago, an anonymous person donated $40,000 to the nonprofit ambulance company, located at 7900 Saginaw St. in downtown New Lothrop.

“The good feeling that this gave all of us associated with Twin Township, it’s just amazing. It’s a morale booster for the entire staff,” said Carolyn Birchmeier, who serves on the ambulance company’s board of directors and worked there as an emergency medical technician for 34 years.

The 40 grand is by far the biggest donation Twin Township, which opened in 1979, has ever received, she said. But not as big as the gift-giver wished it could have been.

“They told someone they wished they could have given us a whole ambulance. They apologized that they couldn’t, even though a new one costs $100,000,” Darrin Zudel, operations manager at Twin Township, said.

“Any donation, we appreciate. But that much of a donation, it’s a big help.”

The funds will be used to cover operational costs, Zudel said. The company is facing rising costs and flat revenues. It is also running short-staffed, meaning fewer employees are working longer hours, requiring overtime pay.

The company held a Queen of Hearts Raffle at Big Joe’s Layton Corners earlier this week to shore up it bank account.

“The donation was wonderful because we’re trying to make ends meet,” Zudel said. “When it came in, we were all happy and crying at the same time.”

He said Twin Township would like to be able to pay its staff more and provide health insurance, but its budget is too tight.

“We would love to change that,” Zudel said.

As for the identity of the donor, Zudel only knows that it was a person who contacted one of the company’s seven board members.

“I’m sure it’s someone in our coverage area,” he said. “They’re a wonderful person, I can tell you that much.”

Twin Township Ambulance’s primary service area includes Maple Grove and Albee townships in Saginaw County; Montrose, Flushing and Vienna townships in Genesee County; and Hazelton, Venice and New Haven townships in Shiawassee County.

When the ambulance service opened its doors for the first time, it happened with only the support of Maple Grove and Hazelton townships.

Today, the company has about 40 paid employees and 10 volunteers. It has a fleet of four ambulances, two of which are used at a time, Zudel said.

“Those young people who work here are treasures,” Birchmeier said. “None of them live in the area, and they’re wonderful to come from afar to take care of us.”

Twin Township provides pediatric education for pre-hospital professionals (PEPP) and pre-hospital trauma life support (PHTLS) certification.

Donations, new members and volunteers are welcomed. For details, call (810) 634-1001 or visit twinems.org.

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