Cash Express, AT&T and the Jenny Lea Academy of Cosmetology lavished gifts of appreciation on Johnson City’s emergency responders, veterans and active military service members Tuesday to commemorate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois called the attacks “a defining moment in history that can be turned for good if every American who remembers the attacks works to improve their community.”
From Cash Express there were cakes for every police, fire and emergency medical service worker in the city delivered to their stations along with posters signed by Cash Express customers with notes of appreciation for their lifesaving work.
“We do it every Sept. 11 for every police, fire and EMS station in every community in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi where Cash Express has stores,” Branch Manager Ashley Caballero said. “We do it to show our support for what they do every day for us and for our community. ... They take care of us.”
From AT&T there were gifts of more than 100 cases of Gatorade and bottled water for the Johnson City Fire Department’s Rehab Unit based at Station No. 6 in Boones Creek.
“It helps them rehydrate when they’re fighting fires,” Eric Horvath, associate director of AT&T’s offices on North Roan Street and state president of the AT&T Pioneers volunteer group, said. “We had several other locations that delivered doughnuts and stuffed bears for them to give to children who have been traumatized. It’s a way for us to remember all they did on Sept. 11 and reward them for all they do in this community.”
At the Jenny Lea academy on East Unaka Avenue there was a daylong party with free haircuts, facials, massages, food and drinks, live music and gift cards donated by some 30 area businesses for Jenny Lea’s students and instructors to give to first responders and local military veterans and active service members.
The party, which started at 10 a.m. and was still going early Tuesday evening, also included a blood drive for the American Red Cross that Sandy Farmer, the academy’s office manager, said proved to be a great success. By 3 p.m., 32 blood donations had been collected and a long line of donors were still waiting to give.
“We were honored to do it,” Farmer said. “It’s been quite a day. We hope to do this every year.”
As he accepted the Johnson City Police Department’s red white and blue “Thank you for all you do” cake, Siroris thanked Caballero and Cash Express Branch Manager Shelly Fields and happily remarked, “You know this is a police station and there’s not going to be anything left.”
Then on somber note, the chief reflected, “Last year was the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and we were invited to take part in a lot of commemorations. This year it strikes us that for a lot of us connected with public safety and for a lot of citizens it was one of those defining moments in history, something we will always remember ... something that is always going to remind us we should never take anything for granted and be thankful we have a peaceful and orderly society in which people can get up and go to work every day and maybe make a difference.
“It was defining moment in our history that we can all turn for good if we make something out of it to better our community.”