Serving those who serve

Published 10:50 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

Firefighters, police officers, city officials, and residents and staff of Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation — Nansemond Pointe join hands during a public safety appreciation day the facility held on Friday.

Fire trucks and police cars, as if on parade, filed into and out of the parking lot at a local rehabilitation center during the lunch hour on Friday.

But they were not on parade and weren’t even responding to a call. Instead, they were picking up lunch provided by the grateful employees at Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation — Nansemond Pointe on West Constance Road.

“We just want to honor the first responders in the city of Suffolk,” said Stephanie Russell, case manager at the facility. “Without them, we couldn’t manage. They’re always here for us.”

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The employees served up barbecue, fried chicken, sausages, baked beans, cole slaw, watermelon and drinks to the firefighters, emergency medical workers and police officers. The parking lot was set up drive-through style, so workers could either pick up their plates to go or stay a bit and get to know the people they usually only see in a rush.

Russell said the emergency medical workers are always quick to respond when a resident has a problem, and the firefighters come calling whenever there’s a false alarm or other issue. Though their services aren’t needed as often, the police also are very helpful at the facility, she said.

“The first responders, fire, emergency medical and police, are very grateful to Nansemond Pointe for taking their time to have a day to show their appreciation of the services we provide to the community,” interim Fire Chief Ed Taylor said. “It is wonderful to know the job performed by the first responders is appreciated.”

Mel Epelle, the administrator at the rehabilitation center, said the facility is trying to reach out to more people as more people move into the area.

“The city of Suffolk is expanding,” he said.

Russell said the public safety appreciation day will become a yearly event, and other outreach activities are in the works.

“We just want to show we care about this community,” she said.