Few understand what it’s like to have a spouse absent for more than 12 hours a day, but the women of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Wives Auxiliary do.
That’s why Wendy Mealing decided to join the group when it formed earlier this year.
Having been married to Deputy Matthew Mealing, of the traffic division, since 2006, Mealing said she wanted to be around women who would understand the struggles of missed birthdays and anniversaries while being able to support other wives dealing with the same thing.
“I’m a single mom 80 percent of the time,” she said. “I work with 100 other women, and only one is married to a deputy. She’s only other person who understands what I have to go through.”
The RCSO Wives Auxiliary began in March as a group of 12 women huddled around a table at Somewhere in Augusta, President Heather Hultman said. Nine months later, the group boasts more than 50 members and expects to grow further.
After starting primarily as a support group, it has expanded its mission to include family-friendly activities and fundraisers that benefit the sheriff’s office. On Oct. 26, the group held a “trunk-or-treat” for families of the sheriff’s office with children.
“It’s been a long time since it’s felt like a family at the sheriff’s office, so we just wanted to bring that back,” Hultman said. “We want to do several things a year that are family oriented so the families of the sheriff’s office can mingle and meet and have fun.”
The group meets at least once a month to plan events, but sometimes it’s nice to just to have someone to talk to, Hultman said.
“We have those moments of talking and venting,” she said. “We also like to laugh and cut up.”
Occasionally the wives will deliver brightly-painted care packages stuffed with diapers, shampoo and other items to families with newborn babies.
The support doesn’t stop with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. When the wives learned of a officer in Florida who was traveling to Georgia Regents Medical Center for his son’s treatment, they voted to greet the family with cooked meals, Corie Jones said.
“It’s one big family no matter what county you work for,” she said.
When faced with tragedy, the group bonds particularly well, Hultman said.
After the first two meetings, the wives were called to action when Deputy Alton Creech died after his motorcycle struck a car.
Creech’s wife, Amanda, was a founding member of the group.
“I remember getting a call while I was sitting in class and I headed straight to the hospital,” Jones said. “Pretty much the phone rings and you go if you can.”
When dealing with a loss, Jones said the group will raise whatever funds it can to alleviate the burden on the family. In the days after Creech’s death, it provided the family with meals and sold commemorative bracelets to help with funeral expenses.
Mealing said she hopes the group will continue to grow so it can expand support to families in need.
“I know we do have some big fundraisers in mind,” she said. “We do hope to get big enough so that when any need arises we can take care of it. That’s the goal.”
Should problems ever arise in her or her husband’s lives, Mealing said she can put full faith in the group to come to her aid.
“At the end of the day, I’ve really inherited 50 other sisters,” she said.