HELENA — On Friday, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Rocky Mountain Development Council and AmeriCorps Seniors took action to show appreciation to first responders in the Helena community.
Last week at the Helena Senior Center, volunteers got together paper, pens and decorations and asked people to write thank-you notes to local law enforcement and firefighters. The idea came from the AmeriCorps Retired Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, as part of a 9-11 Day of Service.
“It’s easy to write a thank-you note, and it’s not something that people think of all the time,” said Samara Lynde, Rocky’s RSVP director. “We just take for granted that our first responders are there, but when we take time to stop and think about it and just think how much they do for us – hopefully we’ll never need them, but we’re grateful for them and that they’re here.”
Dozens of people ended up coming in to write notes.
“When they announced this program, I thought it was a good opportunity to go ahead and say thank you to first responders – fire, police, the sheriff,” said Chris Manos. “I recognize the value of providing these opportunities.”
Eventually, they had a pile of around 100 notes. On Friday morning, volunteers placed them into baskets, along with balloons and baked goods. Lynde dropped the baskets off with the Helena Police Department, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Helena Fire Department and Montana DNRC Fire.
“We were surprised,” said Lewis and Clark County Undersheriff Brent Colbert. “We’re always very humbled when the public brings us stuff like that. When you know the public’s behind you, it makes our job a lot easier.”
“It’s always a great feeling to express thanks to people and to show them how grateful the community is for them,” said Lynde. “It was nice to see their faces light up as they got the gifts. It’s just a small thing for a huge thing that they do.”
This was the first time that RSVP has done this, but Lynde says they hope to make it an annual event going forward.
Rocky and AmeriCorps are also inviting the community to participate in a 9/11 Flag of Honor memorial ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11th. The service will begin at 9:02 a.m., inside the Neighborhood Center at 200 Cruse Ave. in Helena. Volunteers will read the names of 50 of the 2,983 victims of the attack, then hold a moment of silence.
“We invite the community to come down to celebrate these lives and share with each other,” said Lynde.