A note of thankfulness

By on November 23, 2020

(Publisher’s Note: On Oct. 18, U.S. Park Ranger Valerie Streiff, dove into the waters near Bodie Island Lighthouse to save a father and son who were in distress. This letter, a tribute to Streiff, was sent to the Voice by the father, William Butler, of Virginia Beach.)

William Butler with his son Lliam,10, (left) who was also rescued, and Phinn, 7.

If only we had a hint when our moment of reckoning is to arrive. If we had an inkling of what our season of distress may be, we could prepare to meet it. But as Mary Schmich once wrote, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.” Or in my case, Sunday.

My son and I were swimming in the ocean like we had been doing the entire summer. It was probably our last opportunity to do so before the season changed. Being recent transplants from Minnesota, we knew very little about rip currents. As we attempted to swim back toward shore, we realized we were making no headway. My 10-year-old son began to struggle against the waves, and I knew we were in trouble. No attempts to swim down the shore in either direction were yielding any results — and panic started to set in.

After prayers and calls for help, we started to settle into a rhythm, but we had been treading water in choppy waves for a half hour with no progress and no apparent help on the way. I cannot express the despair I felt as a parent realizing I may be unable to save my son from drowning. My wife and two other children were watching all this unfold from the shore.

U.S. Park Ranger Valerie Streiff.

About 40 minutes into the struggle, (judging by the 911 call time by my wife) Mrs. Valerie Streiff pulled onto the beach with her truck, kicked off her boots, shrugged off her uniform jacket, grabbed a life jacket and flotation device and jumped into the surf toward us. My sense of relief was energizing, and hope renewed.

With my son riding the flotation device, we were able to renew efforts and finally broke free of the current and made it to shore with rubbery legs and grateful steps.

Without a doubt, Mrs. Valerie Streiff is a certified American hero. That morning, she had run six miles before starting her shift for the park service. She had the skills and equipment prepared to be in the right place at the moment of need. She did not hesitate to act outside of the requirements of her job. There were others on the shore that day. Many of whom, no doubt, genuinely wished they could do something. Only one made it into the water to help.

I am forever grateful to her and for her preparation. I remind my kids of her heroism multiple times each week since then. We have purchased a throwable buoy on a line for each beach trip. We’ve studied how to spot rip currents. We aim to be more prepared in case someone else is in need as we were. We aim to be more like Valerie.

There are those who make a lot of noise about fixing the world we live in. And then there are those robust, red-blooded Americans who roll up their sleeves and put in the work to truly fix it. They pack flotation devices in the truck and renew their CPR certification and first aid skills and run in the morning to stay in shape and don’t sit on the shore waiting for someone else whose job description more closely matches the need.

This Thursday when my family and I sit around the table and express what we’re thankful for, you can be assured that we will all mention Mrs. Valerie Streiff. Valerie, if you ever read this, you and your family are always welcome at our home and I hope to still drop off that six pack I owe you. Thank you for saving me and my son.

‘The right place at the right time’ By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).



  • Valerie Streiff

    I have tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for the heartfelt note. I would do it a million times over and I am so thankful we had a happy ending. Honored to be a roll mode for your children. All I needed was your son to hug me and say thank you. I look forward to seeing you all again and take care. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Monday, Nov 23 @ 4:40 pm
  • Angus McDonald

    I have tears in my eyes, as well, while reading this. Very well done Valerie Streiff !! !Happy Thanksgiving it will be!

    Wednesday, Nov 25 @ 9:38 am
  • Greg

    What a truly beautiful story. How could anyone read it with dry eyes? In today’s world it is far too easy to forget that the brave and honorable are still walking among us. It is so necessary – so profoundly good – to be reminded of that. Such instills much needed hope and inspires me to want to be a better person.

    Thursday, Nov 26 @ 4:55 pm
  • Lippy

    May God Bless you Valerie Streiff, you truly are a hero, Well done!

    Friday, Nov 27 @ 10:05 am
  • Albert C

    Our community is truly a better place with Valerie in it. That is a wonderful story and tue heroism.

    Wednesday, Dec 2 @ 9:31 pm