Sixteen years ago on Sept. 11, thousands of American lost their lives during a terrorist attack on American soil. Most people can tell you exactly where they were on that day when the World Trade Center Twin Towers fell, the plane crashed in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon was hit.
In remembrance of that day, the management and residents of Heritage Woods of Minooka assisted lifestyle community held a lunch for first responders in the community.
“This is all for the first responders. My son was a volunteer fireman in California, so I know what they go through and I want to give back,” resident Patsy Healy said. “When they come here, they are always friendly and calming.”
Administrator Shannon Deckinga said the management discussed ways for the residents to give back to first responders on 9/11 and came up with the idea to serve them lunch to thank them for their service.
“We wanted to let people know we are here and do something positive for the community. This is where these residents live now, most of them are not from here, but live here now and we want to get them involved in their new community,” Deckinga said.
Invitations were sent out to Troy, Shorewood, Minooka and Channahon fire and police departments and the residents made cards and candy treat bags in the days prior to the event. The kitchen staff prepared pulled pork for sandwiches, cole slaw and residents handed out chips, pop and water.
“I admire what they do and I want to say thank you, these guys sure mean a lot to us,” resident Glenda Todd said.
The residents were already at their lunch hour when this event took place, so the first responders intermingled and sat down to break bread with new friends.
“That day was a great tragedy for the fire service because it was the largest loss of life of personnel in the history of the fire service. It’s a solemn day for us. Being here today is great because there are veterans here, and all of these people watched this unfold on TV and when it was all said and done, people banded together in their communities,” said Michael Hermes of Minooka Fire Protection District.
As the fire and police walked through the front doors of the facility, resident Melvin Hailey stood up to greet and shake the hands of each first responder. They then made their way around the food table, where Deckinga made plates and they shook the hands of the resident volunteers which thanked them for their service.
“We sometimes forget that people actually do like the police and this is a very thankful generation. The generation now seems to have a different attitude toward our first responders. I appreciate that so many people remember that day and the effect it had on the whole nature of our country,” said Gary Fiedler of Minooka Police Department said.
Around 30 minutes before the event concluded, the Channahon Fire Protection District called Heritage Woods to let them know they could not make the event.
Deckinga did not let that stop the residents who worked hard to show their appreciation, so they made 20 lunches to go, loaded up all of the resident volunteers on the bus and drove the lunches to the fire station in Channahon.
Besides feeding those who are on call for our community, Deckinga hoped this day was a good start for community service for the residents of Heritage Woods of Minooka.
“I hope they all enjoyed themselves because they worked really hard to put this together. I hope they come away with a feeling like they gave back to the community,” Deckinga said. “Also, I hope the first responders felt appreciated, know that they are always welcome here and that their hard work does get recognized.”