Gratitude on a Plate

MPD-2D CAC Volunteer serves officer

Each May graduates are cheered as they walked across stages and mothers toasted over family brunches. However, there is another special group who touches all our lives that is honored this month, but receives far less fanfare – the men and women who serve in law enforcement.

Amid other celebrations you might have missed that last week was National Police Week. First designated by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, this week honors those who have died in the line of duty, as well as their survivors. Organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police hold commemorations and other events to recognize those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Here at home, one group marks the occasion each year by also giving thanks to officers and staff in the Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District. Nearly 400 police officers serve the Second District and its more than 138,000 residents, encompassing most of Northwest, D.C. – from Chevy Chase to Foggy Bottom and Spring Valley across to Dupont Circle.

Since 2001, volunteers from the MPD-2D Citizens Advisory Council, a panel that provides information and recommendations from the community on public safety issues and police service needs, have hosted a lunch to express the community’s appreciation to local police. What first began as a small, mid-day lunch with homemade sandwiches and salads, has grown into an all-day event that reaches every police shift in the district. 

Officers enjoying food provided by local restaurants

This past Thursday, May 14, volunteers from MPD-2D CAC transformed the community room at the Second District police station into a café, complete with red and white checked table cloths, flowers, and an expansive display of home baked cookies, brownies, pies, and cakes that would put any patisserie to shame.

The Singleton Lodge in Tenleytown gave a generous donation, which helped underwrite the event. Other local establishments, including Broad Branch Market, Cactus Cantina, Café Deluxe, Good Guys, and Rocklands Barbeque, donated a variety of dishes for almost 300 officers and staff to enjoy, while the Fraternal Order of Police D.C. Lodge #1, which is led by a Tenleytown resident, kept officers hydrated with soda and water.

Homemade desserts for MPD-2D CAC meal

Sampling of desserts baked by local residents

The outpouring of support from local businesses and organizations was matched by residents in the Second District who baked desserts, prepared side dishes, and volunteered on the day of the event from eight o’clock in the morning until midnight. Among the more than two dozen volunteers were students from Woodrow Wilson High School who dedicated their free time after school to help serve food, wash dishes, and clean the community room. Even little kids got in on the action. With the support of the Tenley-Friendship Library, local children decorated notes of thanks that hung in lunch room.

Officers had a wide menu from which to choose.

Officers had a wide menu from which to choose.

As a volunteer, I can attest to how special the annual appreciation meal is. The event provides a unique opportunity to interact with police officers, talk with them one-on-one, and offer a word of thanks, along with a delicious meal. Many times our interactions with police are in the midst of a crisis or perhaps when receiving a ticket. At those times, when we are focused on the immediacy of whatever circumstance brought the police into our lives and how it impacts us, it’s all too easy to take them for granted. The appreciation meal allows community members to pause and say thank you.

The generosity of our community – from residents to businesses – in supporting the meal is a testament to how highly respected the police are in this area. Even if you were unable to be part of this year’s event, the next time you see an officer consider taking a moment and letting him know just how appreciated he is.

MPD-2D CAC meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Second District headquarters, 3320 Idaho Avenue behind the Cathedral Commons. Meetings are open to the public and residents of the district are encouraged to attend.