Community says thanks to officers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 4, 2004

Special to the News-Herald

Donna Perry counts her blessings that she’s never had to call 911, but she counts it a blessing that emergency response is just a phone call away if she needs it.

She and other members of the Citizens Academy Alumni of Suffolk (CAAS) want to thank the hundreds of city emergency workers that make that sense of security possible. So from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 11, CAAS is sponsoring the third annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation Day at Coulbourn Park on Constance Road.

Email newsletter signup

The event is free to all those who work in the police and fire departments, the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad, the Sheriff’s office, Western Tidewater Regional Jail,

and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office and includes their families as well.

&uot;I have personally graduated from both the police and fire citizens’ academies, and that experience has given me a better appreciation of what public safety personnel go through on a daily basis,&uot; said Perry. &uot;I think the 9-11 attacks raised everybody’s awareness of what the ultimate cost of their jobs could be.&uot;

The annual public safety event was created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to recognize Suffolk’s dedicated professionals.

Perry is working hard to get the word out to Suffolk’s public safety personnel and their families. &uot;They just need to show up,&uot; she said.

There will be something for everyone: horseshoes, a tug of war, volleyball as well as many children’s activities, including face painting, a storyteller, a pinata, crafts and more. Door prizes include an overnight stay at the Ramada Inn/Oceanfront, movie passes, museum passes, tickets to Ocean Breeze Festival Park, cruises on the Miss Hampton II, a family membership to the YMCA for a year and more.

Every child who attends will receive a toy.

At 2:30 p.m., Suffolk’s own country music recording artist Jason Swain will perform. Maralyn &uot;Mad Dog&uot; Hershey is expected to attend.

Smithfield Packing Co. has donated 50 Boston Butts, and there will be hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw, hush puppies, snow cones, lemonade, sodas and more.

In addition to the food, entertainment and activities, the Public Safety Officer of the Year will be announced.

Perry wants to thank all the businesses and individuals who have donated prizes, food, time and money to make this event happen. She welcomes donations and is still seeking door prizes, especially for children. For more information or to help, call Perry at 679-3993.

Most people don’t give public safety much thought until they need help, Perry said. Hopefully, she said, Suffolk residents will think of those who work in public safety, especially on Sept. 11.

&uot;I hope everyone will take a minute or more and do something for someone who works in public safety on that day, whether it is to take them cookies, wash their car or just say thank you for being there,&uot; Perry said.

&uot;I have been lucky enough not to have had to dial 911 in the middle of a fire, a robbery or a medical emergency,&uot; she said. &uot;But thousand of Suffolk residents have faced such an emergency, and our public safety people have been there – ready and willing – to help.

&uot;Sometimes those who do the most get thanked the least. Public Safety Officer Appreciation Day is a way to say thanks for all our emergency service people do.&uot;