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Seniors show appreciation

Community: SCV Senior Center participates in project to thank first responders

Posted: September 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Mary Gallant, 87, writes a note expressing her gratitude for the service of first responders at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday.

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It was a simple note on a blue piece of paper. “Thank you to the policeman.”

Seeing it caused Deputy Joe Trejo of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to break out in a broad grin.

“It’s always nice to be appreciated,” Trejo said as he accepted dozens of such letters during the Notes of Appreciation event held at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday.

The project was a joint venture between the Volunteer Center of Los Angeles and L.A. Remembers Coalition.  Lena Skiba, director of the retired/senior volunteer program for Volunteer Center of Los Angeles, approached the senior center about participating in the event in August.

“We’ve been a long-term partner with the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center and have been campaigning throughout Los Angeles to bring local seniors out to thank our first responders who work in L.A. every day,” Skiba said. “All of us need to support first responders, to take time to thank them, and this is a good opportunity to do that.”

Robin Clough, director of volunteers and recreation, was quick to say yes.

“It’s our way of commemorating 9/11 on a local level, to show our appreciation for local first responders,” Clough said. “At our senior center, we call on first responders quite a bit and they’re always here within minutes. The seniors are so grateful.”

The Notes of Appreciation event was designed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Several envelopes, decorated in patriotic stars and decorations and stuffed with the notes, were presented to Trejo by Clough, Skiba and senior center Executive Director Rachelle Dardeau.

“There are letters here in Italian and Spanish, as well as English, so you might need translators,” Skiba said with a smile.

“Please express our gratitude to everyone at the station,” Clough said.

Notes were written on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning at the center for both the Sheriff’s Department and firefighters in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Thank you so much for your unconditional services and care of our community. May God continue to bless you,” said one note signed by Maggie B.

“Thank you so much. What would we do without you?” said another signed by Roland Ivey.

A note signed by Elizabeth was especially poignant. “I needed two 911 calls in July due to heart problems and you were there for me. Thank you!”

Pat Jackson, of Agua Dulce, volunteers with the center and wrote a note of appreciation. Originally from New York, she felt an especially strong kinship to first responders.

“A lot of people from California went to New York after 9/11 to help out. I wanted to let them know how appreciated they are,” she said. “I’ve also had a few fires near my house this year and every time, they were there. I really appreciate it.”

Trejo, whose area of responsibility includes the part of Newhall where the center is located, was touched and humbled to represent for his station, as well as for those who were no longer able to accept such acknowledgements.

“During the week of 9/11, our thoughts are with the folks who were first responders that day, the police officers, the firemen,” Trejo said. “In the big picture, I don’t feel like a hero, but it’s nice to stand in and accept this for them.”

Clough saw things a little differently than Trejo.

“Our local first responders are constantly saving lives,” she said. “You don’t need to go far to find heroes. They’re all around us.”

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