If you work for Mecklenburg County, it’s your job to give excellent customer service.  And that’s what Park Ranger Doug Brown has been doing for the past 9 months. He was hired by Park and Recreation and says he loves his job.  

“Doing this job, I love it. I love being out here… I can say one of the best jobs I’ve honestly had,” said Brown, “I’m just doing my job walking around, talking to people, making sure everything is good to go in these parks.”    

Brown gave an interview to WBTV News because of one specific person he talked to during his regular rounds. The interview was from a park bench along Lake Wylie at McDowell Nature Preserve. He patrols several parks regularly. He has a truck for work, but he also goes on foot. 

“I usually get out and I walk on some of these trails. Usually, see somebody sitting out here, or sitting out on the nature center side. I speak to them,” said Brown, “Like to make sure everyone has a great day.” 

A Listening Ear

“I like standing down here, looking at the water and I just got this vibe that something was wrong that he was upset about something. He wasn’t saying anything. So, when I came down, I speak to him, ‘Hi sir, How are you doing to today?’ I remember him cause I’ve spoken to him before. I spoke to him and he was just real short, he didn’t seem agitated, but he was short with his answers. And I was like, Hey man, is everything okay? Do you want to talk?’”

“He was like, ‘You know what everything is not alright.’ I was like, ‘I don’t have a problem listening. If you want to talk to me, you’re more than welcome.’ So, I sat down and he sat down next to me. And I started talking about how good God has been for me. And told him about some of the positive things that have happened in my life.”

“Slowly, I could see that his demeanor started to change. He went from being sad and upset to being kind of bright and being open. I told him no matter what it is there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You may have to go through some storms and battle some waves, but believe me, trust me, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel no matter where you are, no matter what day it is,” said Brown. 

An Email Arrives

Brown knew he had helped, but he didn’t realize how much. The man he spoke to wrote an email to WBTV News.  

“I’d first like to start off by saying that the individual I’d like to recognize, saved my life. Although he didn’t physically save my life, he did so by talking and listening to me,” wrote the man.  

In his email, he details how upset he was when he spoke to the Park Ranger.  

“I’m alive today because of a person named Douglas Brown. Doug is a Park Ranger for Mecklenburg County. I had been going through a rough patch in my life and considered suicide on several occasions. One time, I was at McDowell Nature Preserve and sadly it was going to be my last day here on earth and I couldn’t take it anymore. I hadn’t told anybody, so nobody knew.”

“Now, this Park Ranger, Doug, always spoke to me, always was friendly, always was willing to help someone out however he could. We had spoken on many different occasions at different parks around the area, and he knew I was going through some things. However, he didn’t know I was going to end it all right there that day. And him just talking to me, seems like it was his calling because after he finished, I had a clear head. I went and got some professional help as well.” 

Doug’s Surprise

Doug’s supervisor, Alex Rohleder, told him about the email. 

“I was shocked. It made me happy inside knowing that I stopped someone from potentially ending their life that day just by talking to him. All in all, I’m a friendly person with everybody, but hearing the news from my supervisor, I almost broke down. That’s amazing. Thank God I was there at that time talking to him and now he’s here with us today,” said Brown. 

The email had more kind words, “Maybe it’s his calling to help people. But I definitely want people to know what kind of young hero he is,” he wrote.  

A Team of Helpers

Alex Rohleder says he is proud of Doug Brown. He adds Brown is not unique. The men and women, who are on his team, care about the community, are passionate about it and give excellent customer service. Brown agrees. 

“It’s a family. We’re just one big family here,” said Brown.  He adds the thanks shouldn’t be for him. It should be for the man who wrote WBTV News. 

“Thank you for at least allowing me to talk to him, to allow me to change his mind about what was going to happen that day,” said Brown, “And thank you, apparently he went and got some help, thank you for doing that. A lot of people struggle, but if you reach out and seek help, you reach out and you’re appreciative about it, the only thing I can tell you is thank you so much.”  

If you need someone to listen, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.