Responder Life is a national ministry that is dedicated to helping serve the needs for first responders. The local division of Responder Life is helping public safety employees throughout Hillsborough County through this special ministry.

Ronnie Rivera knows first-hand how stressful a career in public safety can be.  He is currently employed as a firefighter/paramedic with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.  However, Rivera is also the vice president for a national ministry called Responder Life. This unique ministry was formed by first responders to support and strengthen the families of firefighters, police officers, emergency medical professionals, 911 dispatchers and others serving in the public safety sector in City, County, State and Federal Agencies.

Responder Life partners with organizations, ministries, churches, chaplains and first responders to help develop resources, mentoring and networks designed to strengthen first responders and their families. The mission of Responder Life is to bring the power of Christ’s message to the first responder’s life, family and career, so that every first responder and family has an opportunity to respond to the most important call of their life.

“As a first responder myself I know that we face a lot of challenges and regularly sacrifice our health and well-being on behalf of public safety,” said Rivera. “We are subjected to professional stressors that can be overpowering to us and our families, ultimately setting us up for life frustration and dysfunction.”

Rivera explains that divorce, alcoholism, suicide, burnout and premature death are all significantly high for public safety professionals. “I became involved because I want my co-workers as well as other first responders to have the opportunity to better their lives as well as their families. This will also benefit the community,” said Rivera.

The local branch of Responder Life offers assistance to all first responders in the county and the state. There are multiple first responders that are being reached nationwide through a national staff located in different parts of the country.

An important part of the ministry is a program that called Insiders. Insiders are men and women that work as the hands and feet of the ministry and are identifiable as part the first responder community. They are trained to support their peers and provide hope and healing while demonstrating the love of Christ through their own lives.

The community is also urged to be a part of Responder Life ministry to help the police and fire personnel that help our community daily.  One way to reach out is through a special program called Heroes Dinner where a person can host a dinner or dessert at their home to honor a local first responder

Responder Life is also seeking partnerships through financial giving, allowing the ministry to develop and place resources in the hands of first responders.  The ministry is also preparing for a training session for first responder insiders that are interested in serving in the ministry. If you are interested in being part of this training or in hosting a dinner or dessert at your home, contact Rivera at 900-2439 or by e-mail at .

Responder Life is a non-profit organization. Its mailing address is P.O. Box 6263 Brandon, Fl. 33508. For more information, visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.