In a show of appreciation and thankfulness, the Escalon Pentecostal Tabernacle on First Street recently opened its doors – and hearts – to members of the Escalon Police Department for a special luncheon.
The gathering, said Rev. Wayne Warren, was designed to let police officers, police department support personnel, their families, and city officials, know that they are appreciated for their efforts.
Warren said the idea actually grew out of a trip he and his wife took late last year, traveling to New York City for their 36th wedding anniversary.
“We saw some officers in SWAT gear, my wife told one of them “thank you” for keeping us safe,” Warren said, with that simple gesture seeming to have a profound effect on the officer and the couple.
Warren said they made some signs thanking firefighters, police and ambulance personnel for their service, posting those signs on the church lawn outside the tabernacle on First Street. But, said Warren, it didn’t feel like it was enough.
“I wanted to do something else,” he said.
That’s when the church family decided to formally honor the police department.
“We included the wives and children,” Warren explained, “because every time that officer goes out the door, their family goes with them.”
The luncheon featured guest speakers Assemblyman Heath Flora, Pete Butler representing Congressman Jeff Denham’s office, San Joaquin County Undersheriff John Picone and Escalon Mayor Jeff Laugero.
Along with a banner thanking the police department, the congregation also presented one to the City of Escalon and both banners are now displayed as you enter City Hall on McHenry Avenue.
“We had several sponsors that helped with gifts and food,” Warren added.
Each police department member attending received a gift and there was special recognition for the spouses and children as well.
Among the sponsors were Main Street Market, D’Boni’s Bass Pro Shops, ConAgra, FoodMaxx and Majesty Bible and Gifts.
“It was one of the most exciting events I have been a part of in the 30 years we’ve pastored,” Warren said.
Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges said it was an overwhelming show of support that truly touched the department.
“It was a very nice gesture that was well received by all the personnel that were able to attend,” Borges said. “The people here, in this community, truly do appreciate their first responders. It’s a privilege to be able to work here.”
Warren said the church is also planning a similar appreciation luncheon for the local fire and ambulance crews in the near future.