Police officers, firefighters and paramedics took Friday morning off to enjoy a special breakfast: a gesture of appreciation from the Cambria County community.
“It was an awe-factor walking through the door, seeing everything they have set up,” said State Trooper Robert Kunsman.
The first responder appreciation breakfast was held at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Richland Township, with signs saying ‘thank you,’ balloons and a home-cooked breakfast.
“They go out and do something in the community: save lives, help people. This shows that people really do care,” said Tpr. Kunsman.
First responders said morale is low: they are short-staffed, work long hours and constantly deal with the stress of an ongoing drug epidemic.
They said it means a lot to them when the community takes the time to recognize their hard work.
“Letting our kids know that first responders are our friends. They’re heroes that we should look up to. They’re not anyone to be feared or criticized, but to respect,” said Jessica Aurandt, a Cambria County Assistant District Attorney.
A smile, a thank you or a handshake is all it takes to let first responders know you care.
“I walk in a convenience store and someone will walk up, shake my hand, introduce themselves to me and tell me, ‘Thank you for your service.’ That really lifts people’s spirits,” said Tpr. Kunsman.