Bethany United Methodist Church thanks police, firefighters with fundraising meal |

Bethany United Methodist Church thanks police, firefighters with fundraising meal

Rich Cholodofsky

It’s been more than 50 years since the Latrobe Fire Department Good Friend’s Hose Company No. 5 served as a temporary home to the Bethany United Methodist Church during a long-ago renovation. But members still recall the advice from firefighters.

“They told us that if the fire whistle went off, it would blow us out,” church member Dawna Bates said. “Ironically, the first Sunday we were back in the church, it went off.”

Bates was one of a handful of churchgoers Sunday afternoon who hosted a service and appreciation meal for local fire department volunteers as well as Latrobe’s police officers.

Firefighters and police officers joined about 70 church members for a meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cake for dessert that also served as a fundraiser designed to help both departments.

“This is a community effort. We care deeply for our police and firefighters. This is our way to say thank you, and that we pray for their well being,” said the Rev. Les Hutchins, pastor at Bethany United church.

Church members said they don’t know how much the appreciation meal raised for the departments.

Police officials said earlier this week they hoped the donation will give their department enough money to purchase a portable Intoxilyzer unit that will assist officers in identifying drunk drivers.

Chief John Sleasman also said the department is seeking funds to equip officers with body cameras and to upgrade computer equipment in the police cars.

Firefighters, whose station is just a few blocks from the church, said they, too, will gladly accept donations but the outpouring of appreciation from neighbors is just as rewarding.

“It’s very nice to be appreciated. We put in a lot of hours and hard work and the people know that,” said Scott Taylor, a fire department captain. “Our work is beyond just running into a smokey building. It’s gratifying to have a recognition of this sort.”

While some firefighters and police officers joined church members for the meal, other on-duty officers unable to attend the were still able to enjoy the grub.

“We’re packing up meals for those who are working today,” Bates said. “This is the first time we’ve done this, and it’s something we hope in the future to continue.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Rich Cholodofsky | Tribune-Review
Latrobe police officers and volunteer firefighters dine with members of the Bethany Unity Methodist Church following a worship service Sunday, July 14,2019, to honor both departments.
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