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Westfield Police hailed by church community

October 12, 2016
By Tonja Todd - , Westfield Republican

The Westfield Ministerial Association, representing seven local churches in Westfield, provided dinner for officers of the Westfield Police Department at Eason Hall in appreciation of their service.

A resounding round of applause from over 30 community members was heard in the North Room of Eason Hall, celebrating the 12 police officers of the WPD.

Eleven men and one woman were honored. Law enforcement officers include Police Chief Rob Genthner, Sergeant Brent Burgess, Nick Anderson, Erik Karlstrom, Matt Hettenbaugh, Barry Meleen, Corbin Meleen, Mike Foti, Pete Kunow, Justin Peterson, Justina Preston and Mark Samonia.

Article Photos

Photo by Tonja Dodd
The Westfield Police Department was honored with an appreciation dinner by the Westfield Ministerial Association. Pictured from left front, officers Mike Foti, Barry Meleen, Mark Samonia, Matt Hettenbaugh, Chief Rob Genthner, Justina Preston, Nick Anderson, Corbin Meleen; back row, Pastors Matt Wolfe and Vinny Sanzo and officers Justin Peterson and Erik Karlstrom. Officers missing from photo were Sergeant Brent Burgess (on a police call) and Pete Kunow.

Before dinner was served, Town Supervisor Martha Bills thanked the department for their service. Special guest John Duenas, a retired pastor of Fredonia Christian Worship Center and former Oakland, Calif. police officer addressed the group expressing his appreciation and requested they be careful, asking God's blessing upon them.

Pastor Vinny Sanzo of the Lakeshore Assembly of God hosted the event and gave the invocation, blessing the meal. He asked that officers be protected and honored and asked for blessings upon officers and their families.

Dinner included lasagna, roast beef, fried chicken, fruit and tossed salad, fresh vegetables accompanied by grape juice, other soft drinks and homemade pies for dessert.

Pastor Sanzo presented each officer with a gift created by church members with donations from local businesses as a token of appreciation. A care package with snacks packaged in blue and a gift bag chock-full of goodies were presented. The bag included homemade cookies, gift certificates to local businesses, a personalized Bible including special messages for police officers working in rural America, a travel mug with a prayer on it, and an inspirational booklet from the motion picture, "Courageous" - a Christian-based movie about law enforcement officers and their families. A pocket knife engraved with the phrase,

"We Thank and Support our Westfield Police Officers from the Westfield Churches" was part of the bag. Each officer was given a vibrant seasonal mum donated by Westfield Nursery as well.

The event started out when in July, Pastor Sanzo had a heavy heart hearing the news of the Dallas police officer shooting where five were killed and seven wounded. He wanted to reach out to local police and called Chief Genthner to discuss the possibility of expressing appreciation. He then brought the idea to the Westfield Ministerial Association, which gladly agreed to be part of the outreach. An opportunity arose where the entire force would be together for a training and the Ministerial Association pulled together with Senior Pastor Matt Wolfe of First Baptist Church volunteering to co-coordinate the event with Pastor Sanzo.

The Westfield Police Department's primary responsibility is to promote and maintain public safety and security for Village and Town of Westfield citizens and businesses. The WPD in partnership with the community is dedicated to improving the quality of life by protecting lives and property, enforcing the laws of the State of New York and the United States Constitution. For emergencies, dial 911. For all other non-emergency inquiries or information, call 326-3375.

The Westfield Ministerial Association currently led by Pastor David Herr of Lighthouse Christian Fellowship church meets monthly. The Association offers community outreach for citizens in need and organizes events. The annual baccalaureate service for Westfield Academy and Central School is one of the annual events they organize. The association also helps fund Westfield food pantry and Westfield Community Kitchen and gives to individual families in need - for instance, last year's flood victims.



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