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Alle-Kiski Valley first responders honored at meet, mingle affair

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, 10:45 p.m.

Susan Mellon-Rearick wants to say “thanks.”

With incidents of violence, division and distrust seen across the country, Mellon-Rearick wants local first responders — police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel — to know they are appreciated.

Working with others, her idea became “We're Better Together,” an event being held Sunday at the Springdale Veterans Hall on Pittsburgh Street.

It's meant to give residents a chance to meet and mingle with first responders and get to know them.

“I don't think it's ever been done,” said Mellon-Rearick, of Springdale Township. “With the way everything's going in the world, we need to stop and thank the men and women who are putting their lives on the line each day for us.

“Our main goal that we want to accomplish is to say that we're better together,” she said.

Police and firefighters from Springdale, Springdale Township, Cheswick, Harmar and Frazer are expected to attend, along with Lower Valley Ambulance.

“I think it's a good idea,” said Bob Reiger, a supervisor with Lower Valley Ambulance. “It's always good when people appreciate what you do.”

Community children, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and school groups, are expected to participate in a small ceremony. Local businesses have donated food and refreshments.

Kids will be able to see police cars, fire trucks and ambulances and, more importantly, the people who use them.

“We really hope that everybody is interacting together,” Mellon-Rearick said. “Kids can meet the police and firemen and not be afraid of them.”

When she had her idea, Mellon-Rearick got in touch with friends and churches to organize the event, and a volunteer group was created. There's eight to nine people involved now in the informal group, she said.

Stacey Ansell of Springdale is one of them.

“With everything that's been going on in the country, with the divide of the police and the communities, we wanted to build that safety net and that cohesiveness between the two and not divide us,” Ansell said.

“Without them, we'd be living in total disarray,” she said. “They deserve our respect. It's a very thankless job for all of them. For us to say ‘thank you' is kind of the least we can do.”

While there's a name for the event, Mellon-Rearick said they haven't given one to their group, and she's not sure how far it will go. There's hope to make this an annual event.

“I think that's what we would like to do,” she said. “We're going to see how this event goes the first time.”

She's encouraging residents to stop by, even if for a moment, to say thanks.

“This is really something that was started from the heart to thank these women and men,” she said. “I hope that, in meeting our first responders, we learn that they're no different from us.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or at brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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