“Love is in the air”

WTPD hosts Valentine’s Day senior lunch

If there’s music, township clerk Leo Selb will dance. From left: Helen Parasmo, Marie Serchia and Selb dance to whatever the DJ plays. (Anthony J. Mazziotti III/The Sun)

From the moment officer Steven Pinnelli’s smiling face greeted residents at the door of the Washington Township Senior Center, it was clear who the star of the show would be this Valentine’s Day.

The Washington Township Police Department hosted its inaugural Valentine’s Day luncheon at the senior center that included a catered lunch by Aversa’s, a Chinese auction and a DJ playing dance music.

“We want to be a fixture in the community. We’re focused on keeping Washington Township safe, that’s always a priority, but we’re also committed to community caretaking, and that’s what we’re doing here today,” Chief of Police Pat Gurcsik said. “This group here today, our senior citizens from Washington Township, they’re our greatest generation and it’s our pleasure to serve them a meal today and have our police officers meet, speak and learn from this generation.”

The senior citizens were happy to have the company of the police officers. Residents Marge DiCarlo, Pat Paetow and Janelle Stackhouse sat and spoke with officer Megan Dougherty while they waited to be called for food.

“I’m having a wonderful time,” DiCarlo said.

“It’s a wonderful surprise,” Paetwo added. “It’s nice to be acquainted with our police.”

“I hope it’s a yearly event,” Stackhouse said.

Gurcsik said they served meals at the senior center before but never something in this capacity on Valentine’s Day. He wants to make this an annual event moving forward.

Washington Township Council president and liaison to the senior citizen advisory board, Joe Perry, appreciated the event because it puts a spotlight on to the senior center.

“It’s a big deal. It brings a lot more seniors into the center,” he said. “I like the interaction. It shows a good side of the police force. It brings a lot more seniors into the center so we’re exposing more people in the township to the center.”

While the catering for the event was from Aversa’s, Egizi Funeral Home footed the bill for the event. Amy Robinson, the office manager at Egizi Funeral Home, spoke on behalf of the home.

“Charlie (Chiango, the owner of Egizi Funeral Home), believes in giving back to the community,” Robinson said. “He lives in Washington Township, his family lives in Washington Township, they’re a family owned funeral home. He’s very proud of being from Washington Township, he really loves the township.”

Aside from the food, the seniors were given a chance to win prizes through an auction. Gurcsik said the prizes were donated by businesses in the township. Seniors could win gift cards to PJ Whelihan’s, Pasta Pomodoro, Walmart, wine from Selina’s Liquors or free car washes from White Glove car wash.

Gurcsik added more than 15 officers were on duty, and a lot of them stopped by the luncheon to make an appearance for the seniors.

“Everyone was happy and pleased,” attendee Bernie Croce said. “Our hands clap for the police officers.”

The senior luncheon brought the community together. From the businesses donating for the auction to the officers serving lunch and hanging out with the seniors to the funeral home paying for the food, the township came together for the benefit of the seniors.

“Between our administration and the police department coming out and serving our seniors today, absolutely the love is in the air,” Mayor Joann Gattinelli said. “I like the community coming together. I hope every year is as nice as this year. We want to continue doing this with our seniors.”