Humans of Darlington County: Chaplain Frank Stoda
Chaplain Frank Stoda of the Darlington City Fire Department recently shared the final prayer at the 64th Annual National Day of Prayer on the Public Square.
After the conclusion of the program, he shared his story.
“When I worked for Fairfax County, Virginia Fire Department, I was part of their Urban Search and Rescue Team, the team that is now in Nepal, helping with the earthquake.” said Stoda. “ My first mission was the embassy bombing in Kenya, then two earthquakes in Turkey, an earthquake in Taiwan, an earthquake in Iran, 14 days in the Pentagon after 9/11, and five weeks in Mississippi and New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina.”
“Our team specializes in heavy, collapsed concrete structures. We are trained on how to safely go into collapsed structures and recover people out of there. When I was in Turkey, one of my best missions was I helped rescue an 8 year old boy.”
He retired in 2007, and has been working as the Chaplain for the Darlington City Fire Department for a little over two years.
He continues to give back to the community, by sharing a Sunday morning service each week for Alzheimer’s patients at Elmcroft Assisted Living in nearby Florence.
“That is the most rewarding thing I do all week,” said Stoda. “My father in law had Alzheimer’s, and eventually moved to Elmcroft. They found out I was a chaplain, and for years they have been trying to get someone to come in and do a Sunday service. I come in and do a weekly prayer service.”
Something amazing happens each week during the prayer service to even the most non-verbal of the Alzheimer patients at Elmcroft, something that touches Stoda deeply.
“When it comes time to say the Lord’s Prayer, you can look around and you see every mouth moving.”
Stoda smiled. “I can feel tired and everything else, but as soon as I walk in there and see them, they lift the spirit so much,” he said. “When I walk out, my feet don’t touch the ground.”