Senior residents of Sonoma House Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s Care in Carrollton recently honored local firefighters of Firehouses 4 and 7 with a special brunch reception and a $500 check made to the Carrollton Firemen’s Association. In celebration of the residential community’s one-year anniversary, the seniors and staff wanted to give back and thank those who have kept them safe and happy. Therefore, they developed “The Sonoma Heart Project” to honor the first responders for the community at large. The residents gathered to write personalized letters of appreciation to members of the Carrollton Fire Rescue team and hosted the firefighters for a special presentation during which they read aloud cards of thanks and shared personal stories. Photos that were taken during the presentation and event will be printed, framed and delivered to the firehouses by the residents later this month.
“It was touching to witness the seniors working on these letters and then see how excited they were to present those notes to the firefighters in person over brunch,” said David Gustafson, executive director of Sonoma House. “This project reminds me about what we do here at Sonoma House each and every day – we provide opportunities to build relationships, ensure people feel appreciated and enjoy meaningful celebrations and special occasions together. All of that is what makes us truly feel like we are a family. It was an honor to take photos with our neighborhood firefighters. We look forward to seeing those framed, and we are anxious to hand deliver the photos to the stations.”
The residents and staff members of Sonoma House are thankful for these unsung heroes who keep their community safe. In fact, several of the senior residents have been helped personally by the first responders of Firehouses 4 and 7 and were excited to express their gratitude in person and let the firefighters know that they are making a positive difference in the area and in their lives. One example involves the Vice President of the Resident Council at Sonoma House, Doris Panell. She, among a few other residents, read their letters aloud to the firefighters at the event, and she described how much it meant to her and her husband Walter, who receives specialized memory care, to have such a “fine team” of reliable and prompt responders on hand for emergencies.
“I don’t take what the Carrollton firefighters and paramedics have done for Walter for granted,” said Doris. “And I am very glad I can say ‘Thank you’ in person.”
Not only did Doris thank the team for what they have done personally in emergency situations for her husband, she boosted their self-esteem by applauding their cooking skills at the fire department, which she has heard are impressive. She also described how she considers them to be “hunks.”
In her letter to the firefighters she wrote, “I have a grandson, Matthew, who is a body builder and college graduate. He’s also a firefighter and EMS team lead in Oklahoma City. I know that you have to stay in shape to do what you do – thank you for that.”
The residents and staff members at Sonoma House hope the letters written and the photos taken together are a source of encouragement to the first responders. The mementos will always be there to give them a boost during hard times. They also hope that the donation of $500 to the Carrollton Firemen’s Association will help provide needed services. The Association makes donations to charities and good causes that are brought before it and provides a Christmas party, “Spouse Appreciation Dinner” and retirement parties for its members.