“It’s too bad the entire city isn’t here today,” Mark Eaton, District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of the Rhode Island Association Elks, began as he stood outside Warwick Fire Department headquarters last week. “I’m here to say thank you for making our 365 Outing extra special.”
Eaton presented a special plaque to Chief James McLaughlin and Deputy Chief James Kenney, saying, “The firefighters who attended that day truly showed how compassionate and community-minded these men really are, a side of them most people never see.”
When Eaton and representatives were planning the annual 365 Outing, held every summer at the Masonic Youth Center in Warwick, he wanted to make sure all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. And, especially since hundreds upon hundreds of special needs residents would take part in an afternoon filled with games and gifts for young and old alike who came to Warwick via buses and vans from all over the state.
When Eaton met with McLaughlin, they agreed with such a large crowd it would be a good idea to have a team of Warwick firefighters on site in case of any emergency.
McLaughlin made sure a Warwick Rescue and Engine Truck was on site at the Masonic park to ensure the safety of each and every attendee.
“The [Warwick] firefighters went above and beyond their call of duty,” Eaton said while chatting with McLaughlin and Kenney. “They interacted with our special guests; they gave out plastic red fire helmets to our guests and proved to be a huge hit throughout the afternoon.”
Eaton then took two “thank you” cards from his navy blue blazer and read what two of the day’s special needs guests printed.
“Thank you for letting me see the fire engine,” is what the first line of a heart-tugging, scribbled-like message read while the other noted, “Thanks for my favorite Jeremy O; the best part was the tattoo and fire truck.”
Perhaps a message inside the flower-covered card best described the day’s message Eaton and the Rhode Island Elks Lodges wanted to convey to McLaughlin and Kenney for the “outstanding job and commitment of the Warwick Fire Department and firefighters.”
Firefighters who helped McLaughlin and Kenney accept the plaque were Andrew Sisson, Timothy Baribeault, Michael Boynton, Michael Schmidt, Jesse Reynolds, Battalion Chief Thomas Sinotte, Capt. Edward Hannon, Lt. Mathew O’Donnell, Jonathan Sirr, Michael Carreiro, Lt. Jason Fury and Michael Kelley Jr.