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Volunteer brings 'a little bit of sunshine' to fire station
By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald
Every Tuesday Joel Little can be found at the Enumclaw fire house washing the big, red fire trucks, sweeping the bay floor, checking every truck's doors, making sure the equipment is secure and anxiously awaiting any other assignment his fellow firefighter may have for him.
Little is one of the latest volunteer firefighters to earn his badge at the Enumclaw fire house. But Little is a very special volunteer.
"What a great community this is for people with special pops (populations)," said Little's mother, Dale Pierson. "He can go anywhere and everyone smiles and says 'Hi.'
"I want everyone one to know how neat it is for Enumclaw to do this for him."
Indeed, it seems everyone in town knows Little and his bright smile and eager attitude.
He's been dropping by the fire department and lending a hand for quite some time. The firefighters and Little himself joke, he spent so much time there they had to give him volunteer status.
Even as a kid, Little was a familiar sight at the fire department. His father, Elmer Little, was the area's former Washington State Patrol sergeant and a member of Rescue One.
"He grew up with scanners and beepers," Pierson said.
Fire Chief Joe Kolisch said the decision to give Little his uniform and badge recently was unanimous by those working at the station.
"He does so much for us, there was no reason he couldn't be one of us," Kolisch said. "There wasn't any reason why he can't be a special member of our department."
"I'm part of the support loop," said Little, puffing out his chest to show his badge. He also wears a link bracelet with a fire truck on it. "That means I help them out whenever they need."
"He helps the day shift guys keeping the trucks in service," Kolisch said. "They keep him pretty busy here."
Little does not go out on calls, but what he does around the station is a big help to his fellow firefighters.
"He does an exceptional job around here," Kolisch said. "He keeps us on our toes. He doesn't forget anything.
"They look forward to every Tuesday to see him come in," Kolisch said. "He's a pretty special guy.
"He's a little bit of light. He brings a little bit of sunshine into the station."
Like the other volunteers with the department, Little has a 'real' job. He works three days a week as a courtesy clerk at the Bonney Lake Safeway. The 27-year-old, 1995 Enumclaw High School graduate bought the home he shares with others with special needs - Friendship House in Enumclaw. He and the others are the first group of residents in the state to own their home.
Little is excited, and his mother thanks the community for giving him and others the "dignity to carry on with their lives."
Brenda Sexton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org