Each year, Elim Park Place recognizes the efforts of the local first responders by providing the Cheshire Police and Fire Departments with a monetary gift for assisting the facility over the past 12 months.
This year, President Brian Bedard presented each department with a $195,000 check—a gift made all the more important given officer and firefighters’ efforts in combating the pandemic and helping keep Elim Park Place residents safe.
“When this pandemic started I remember Sean (Kimball, Town Manager) and I were exchanging PPE (personal protective equipment) in his driveway,” Bedard began. “We really had no idea what was coming at us, but we knew it was going to be much worse than we had planned for...But what is the most comforting thing to know is that no matter, police, fire, or something else, the Town of Cheshire is so supportive of our residents.”
The checks were presented during a special ceremony at Elim Park, held on March 25. These gifts are made as a way for Elim to say “thank you” to the Cheshire first responders for their dedication to their community. Elim Park Place is considered a religious institution, therefore it does not pay taxes to the Town of Cheshire.
A short, one-minute video, was shown during the presentation, as a tribute to the local first responders who routinely respond to calls from the Elim facility.
“This was such a different year, but it reminds us that when we call 911 for help, our first responders cannot run away. In fact they typically run towards the danger,” Bedard emphasized. “They are cut from a completely different cloth than the rest of us. Whether its a pandemic or a car accident or a fire, these are very, very special people and we are really blessed to have them here at Elim Park.”
Bedard mentioned that, while political strife may be high at the moment, respect for first responders should be something that transcends the political divide.
After the video, Bedard introduced Pastor Wayne Detzler who led the group in prayer over the first responders who were in attendance.
“Prayer is very important to us and it is the foundation of our success,” explained Bedard. “When we were going through COVID and all that uncertainty, the one thing we knew was that the God we serve was going to protect this property and protect all of our residents.”
Kimball, who was present during the ceremony, spoke about how the past year has taken a toll on many Cheshire residents, and how hopeful he is about the future.
“I was lucky enough to be here when they delivered the first doses of the vaccine and it was incredibly emotional for all of us,” he said. “But we are so hopeful that the worst is behind us and we couldn’t have done it without the help we have received from Elim Park,”
Bedard then presented the checks to both Neil Dryfe, Chief of Police, and Jack Casner, Fire Chief, for their dedicated service. Both Chiefs expressed their gratitude for the support, highlighting how they can now afford to do specific training that might not have been affordable otherwise.
“On any given day, when someone calls out one of our officers and a patrol car shows up, I can guarantee that there are items in that car that were purchased directly from this gift account,” said Dryfe. “There is equipment on that officer's person or in the vehicle that we might not be able to afford otherwise given the varying budget processes and the economic slump we’ve had for the past few years.”
“As an example, just the other day there was an incident in Windsor where an individual got stuck in a pasta making machine and it required extended extrication,” continued Casner. “Our guys haven’t done that training in probably four years, and our guys wanted to do it. This gift will go directly to funding that training because it will cost around $8,000 to train 30 people. This is the kind of stuff you guys allow us to do with your donations.”