OLEAN — As the Eden Heights of Olean bus pulled up to the curb by the Olean City Police Department early Wednesday, Capt. Mike Marsfelder walked from inside to tell the driver he couldn’t park in front of the building.
Marsfelder, as well as other police officers and city officials who included Mayor Bill Aiello, were pleasantly surprised when they learned the bus filled with senior citizens from the assisted living and memory care facility had brought them doughnuts and beverages to start their day.
Danielle DeLong, community development director of Eden Heights, said the seniors were delivering doughnuts to Olean’s first responders in a show of gratitude for their daily work.
In addition to the police department, the group delivered doughnuts to the Olean Fire Department, Trans Am services, the sheriff’s staff in the Cattaraugus County Building and the New York State Police Barracks in Olean. DeLong said she also planned to deliver doughnuts to the Allegany police and fire departments Thursday.
“Part of my role within the Eden Heights family is to ensure we have strong relationships with Olean and the surrounding communities and make sure that we give back to them when we are able to do so,” DeLong said. “Usually I am out on the road by myself delivering treats to our community partners, but I thought going to see our first responders was something that our residents would like to take part in.
‘The senior citizen population is full of the most respectful and grateful people that you will ever meet,” DeLong continued. “They, along with our staff that work with them to protect and care for our residents, appreciate our first responders, so here we are today to present a small token of our appreciation.”
April Kilbourn, Eden Heights director of activities, and DeLong said that while the event was the first time for residents to directly reach out to first responders, they hope to do the activity again in the future.
“November is the month of giving, it’s the month where we wanted to say thank you to each and every one of them,” Kilbourn explained. “We wanted to thank them for keeping our community safe by responding” to emergencies.
“Sometimes it’s a thankless job, so we wanted to say thank you,” she added.
Resident Emily Jordan had the honor of presenting the doughnuts to the mayor and Marsfelder.
Jordan told the mayor she was thrilled to meet him before getting a hug from him.
Another resident, Bruce LaQuay, said he enjoyed riding along on the bus and noted it was special as he has a birthday coming up on Veterans Day.
“They keep us busy,” LaQuay said of the Eden Height staff.
Aiello said the delivery of doughnuts was a very thoughtful gesture on the part of the Eden Heights residents and staff.
“This is very nice,” Aiello said. “Eden Heights does a lot of wonderful things all of the time. It seems like all the time they’re calling and saying ‘Would you like a salad’ or other treat.
“They’re very community oriented,” he commented. “They invite me to come down all the time to Eden Heights to an event. I love it when they ask me to judge because I get nice food.”
Police Chief Jeff Rowley said he, too, was surprised at first when the bus stopped in front of the police department.
“But they did the right thing — doughnuts go a long way,” Rowley said with a smile.
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)