With such a downpour of rain Saturday morning in Waxahachie, it was not the best of conditions to be “out and about” but our beloved first responders who are always “out and about,” regardless of the weather as they serve and protect us, joined dedicated volunteers from Brown Street Church of Christ and members of our community for a hot meal and a time of fellowship.
Saturday was the 28th annual First Responders Breakfast the church holds to show its appreciation for all first responders, which includes all in law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs.
I spoke with Ronnie and Sheila Rushing, who have been cooking for the event for the last 12 years.
“We do this to recognize what the first responders do for us. We enjoy doing this. It is the very least we can do after all they do for us. We always have lots of good volunteers to help,” Ronnie shared with me.
Laura King and Larry Walker, who both retired from the Dallas Fire Department and who’ve remained best friends, were in attendance. King commented on how they enjoyed the breakfast and fellowship as she talked about her career.
“I was a firefighter for the Dallas Fire Department for 32 years, which included being a paramedic for 18 of those years. I worked in the Pleasant Grove area. I got interested after a good friend from Lancaster talked about it and I thought I’d give it a shot. I wanted to help people,” said Walker, who served as a chief driver for the department.
Several members of the Waxahachie Fire Department were enjoying a good hot meal and I spoke with pump engineer and paramedic, T.J. Nava, who expressed his appreciation to the church for having the breakfast.
“We really like these events. There is nothing like a good hot meal,” he told me, noting there are several organizations in the community that provide breakfast for them.
The youngest volunteer was 13-year-old Calli Fletcher, who got up very early to be a part of the breakfast from 6-9 a.m.
“Doing this is a good thing because they do so much for us,” she told me as she served food to the first responders. Her father, Chad Fletcher, smiled as he said, “We are very proud of her wanting to serve others.”
Larry Sullivan, an elder at the church, was concerned at first that the weather would affect the turnout. He shared with me, “We are happy to do this every year for all our first responders.”
Waxahachie Police Department officer Noelle Blain, who is serving as a field training officer, was there with rookie Ellen Kyle as both were enjoying a good hot meal. Blain has been with WPD for six years after serving with the Killeen Police Department for 10.
“We want people to know we appreciate this. It is very nice that they have this for us every year,” she said.
Kyle remarked on how she is enjoying the job and catching on to many new things. She told me, “I really want to do a good job – and this food is great.” FTO James Taylor III and his rookie officer, Sha Monica Martin, were also there having a great meal.
I also had the opportunity to sit down and visit with 24-year WPD veteran, patrolman Ron Clayton. As he enjoyed his meal he said, “It is always good to have an opportunity to meet with the public in this type of setting. It gives the citizens a chance to see the person behind the badge in a different light. These types of settings help bridge the gap between law enforcement and our citizens.”