Police and firefighters honored with annual Appreciation Lunch • Brooklyn Paper

Police and firefighters honored with annual Appreciation Lunch

New York’s finest: Officer Romina Cekani and Sergeant Steven Riggio of the 62nd Precinct were among the dozens of cops who came out for the Be Proud Foundation luncheon.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Russian-American Be Proud Foundation and the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District thanked and honored police and firefighters at their seventh-annual Appreciation Lunch on Dec. 13.

The two community groups treated dozens of New York’s Finest and Bravest to a meal at the acclaimed National Restaurant on Brighton Beach Avenue between Brighton Second and Brighton Third streets to show gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice of the city’s defenders.

“They are such good people, the police and fire department. If, God forbid, something bad happens to you, they will be with you,” said Be Proud Foundation president Raisa Chernina, who said she started the lunches as a way of remembering the kind police officer who comforted her in the hours following her mother’s death 10 years ago. “At least once a year, we have to tell them ‘thank you.’ ”

Chernina said the lunches — which many neighborhood leaders attend — are also intended to dispel ingrained Russian-American prejudices against law enforcement.

“Unfortunately, in Russian tradition, we are not communicative with the police department, because people are afraid,” said Chernina. “We just want to tell people not to be afraid.”

This year’s meal took on a special significance because of the damage super storm Sandy wreaked on Brighton Beach, and the joint police, fire department, and community efforts to deal with the aftermath.

“We tried to thank them for their help during the hurricane, and they said thank you too, because there were a lot of volunteers from the area who helped out,” said Paul Kahlitov, a volunteer assistant to Chernina.

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