(Editor’s Note: This story was submitted to Pacifica Patch by Pacifica resident Kristi Kelly Nemes).
Monday, Jan. 21, was a typical morning for me. I woke up, turned off the alarm on my phone. As I fed my baby daughter, I glanced through my 30 new junk emails that came overnight. I ended my morning ritual by looking at Facebook to see what my friends from the East Coast had been up to that morning.
That’s when I saw a childhood friend’s post about an incident during a fire in the early morning hours. The post implied that someone had passed away, but the details weren’t there yet.
As I checked back, I was full of dread, hoping that I wouldn’t know the names involved. Shortly before lunch I saw the name: Matt Porcari.
Matt, 34, was a good friend my senior year of high school. I fondly remember hanging out with him and hearing about his studies to be an EMT. I also remember the times spent watching him play baseball. He was your typical good guy, friends with everyone, heart of gold. I lost touch with him after I graduated.
Matt had gone on to have a wife and kids and to be a volunteer firefighter. In the early morning hours of Jan. 21, he was helping fight a fire in rural Newark Valley, N.Y. when he fell through the floor. He died in the line of duty.
When I heard what happened, my heart broke. Most kids look at sports figures as heroes, before they are accused of steroid abuse or have relationship issues or bouts with the law.
Meanwhile I grew up with a true hero, one I want my kids to know about. I didn’t know his wife or kids he left behind or the brothers in his fire department. I was at a complete loss of how to show my sympathy, one of thousands of people wanting to do the same.
Then it hit me, how often do we, as a community, show our thanks to our local heroes? We talk of out-sourcing our police department. Communities around us use volunteer firefighters because somehow they don’t need to be paid for sacrificing everything for our safety.
In honor of Captain Matt Porcari from the Owego Fire Department, I was able to get 18 families within a few short days to make meals for our local firefighters to show our appreciation for all they do in a time when cutting budgets is always a hot topic.
These families from the Pacifica Mother’s Club and Ortega Elementary School have graciously volunteered to make dinners for our firefighters.
I started out hoping to fill a week of dinners, one per shift. This expanded to two weeks and beyond. In addition, the preschool class at Babe’s Preschool made pictures for the firefighters, thanking them. Ms. Welch and Mrs. Foster’s first grade class from Ortega Elementary also made a book for the firefighters telling them why they appreciate them.
Erin Wood was a blessing helping to coordinate the dinners with the stations and all the families who volunteered to help and honor my friend. These include the Linert, Aguilar, Redfield, Campbell, Gatley, Lownds, Smith, Negrette, Uter, Rosoff, Stone, Norman, Betschart, Dudum, Quigley, Metkiff, and Lobos families. Thank you to the firefighters of Pacifica for all you give to our community. May you always know how deeply we appreciate you!
— Kristi Kelly Nemes
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