The “gentleman,” who Curtis Rainge declines to name because some people don’t seek credit for the good things they do, jumped at the chance.
Rainge had just told him he was looking to help an elderly man living near La Platte whose trailer home’s electricity and air conditioning had just failed.
“That’s what I do,” said the man, waving away Rainge’s concerns about paying for the service. “I can do that.”
It was a service, Rainge estimated, probably worth about $3,000.
“People are willing to give, you’ve just got to ask. That’s all you have to do. They’re glad to help you out,” Rainge said.
“People have stepped up in every way possible. There’s folks who don’t live in this county, who used to live here, and are always giving back.
“I can call them and tell them what I’m doing. I say, ‘Hey, I need help with such and such,’ and they’ll ask, ‘Who do I write the check to?’”
Rainge, 63, a native of Georgia whose 21-year Air Force career ended at Offutt Air Force Base in 1994 with the rank of master sergeant, has been community relations coordinator for the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office for the past 19 years.
That ends July 12 with his retirement.
It has been, Rainge said, “the best job in the world.”
The job, he said, had two primary functions: First, promote the work and the people of the Sheriff’s Office throughout the county; second, do that primarily by becoming the go-to man for people who need help, no matter the nature of the help needed.
For Rainge, who said his parents instilled in him and his 11 siblings the duty to serve others, it was the perfect job, or, as he puts it, “my forte.”
It required that he build relationships not just with the county’s public agencies but with the many private agencies and nonprofits throughout the county — that he understand their work, their programs and their resources in order to call on them when necessary.
He served on boards and agencies, and during almost two decades became the point man in Sarpy County for people needing help.
And necessity knows no hour.
“Sometimes I get calls at night about a family stranded on the road, or someone who got kicked out because of domestic violence, and I try to find placement for them,” he said. “It gets taxing sometimes, but it’s a joy to see when it’s all said and done.”
Rainge signed on with the Sheriff’s Office in 2000 after a spell with the Papillion Police Department where he helped start the city’s Neighborhood Watch program, and with Sarpy County, where he helped identify community service opportunities for persons sentenced by the courts to such duty.
The sheriff’s job, where, among much else he coordinates the county’s Neighborhood Watch program, was a natural continuation of that work, he said.
“I’ve loved it,” he said. “I love working with people.”
“You don’t do things looking for a pat on the back or any type of attention. You just do it because it needs to get done. God put us here to serve, whatever it may be.”