Johnston First Responders’ Lunch tradition rolls on


Many people in Johnston will tell you the terrific tradition known as the First Responders Luncheon, that began many moons ago, is a unique lunch-time treat unlike any other.

It has also been called “a fun food fest” for two of the most important municipal agencies in the town; namely members of the Johnston Police and Fire Departments – a.k.a. First Responders – whose herculean efforts often go unnoticed without a thank you or three.

The First Responders Luncheon – which was sometimes shifted into a bountiful breakfast – made its post-COVID-19 debut Monday at The Preserve, President/CEO Akshay Talwar’s 66-unit supportive independent and assisted living facility located on the ever-expanding Briarcliffe Campus off Old Pocasset Road in Johnston.

Jen Burns, The Preserve’s sales director who initiated the original idea, chaired Monday’s First Responders Luncheon that countless Briarcliffe employees made it special for each and every member of the police and fire departments.

“This is like a pre-Fourth of July Celebration,” was just one of the many comments from four dozen First Responders who enjoyed a 10-item buffet that included Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches, pulled pork rolls, potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, watermelon and chips and prepared by The Preserve’s Culinary Director Chris Rousseau.

So, it was The Preserve’s time to shine – and sparkle it did – replete with Johnston Police Chief Joseph P. Razza telling Talwar after he took a tour of the extraordinarily designed 66-unity facility: “This place is beautiful; it’s just like a luxury hotel – and the food’s fantastic, too!”

Briarcliffe employees set up banquet-style tables underneath four royal-blue top canopy coverings while Rousseau’s caloric creations covered were displayed on a long-row of tables that enabled each and every First Responder to make his or her way through the buffet line.

Likewise, Stefany Reed – Briarcliffe’s marketing director – and Engagement Director Samantha Bennett welcomed guest-upon-guest, and even poured glasses of chilled water, soda and freshly-made lemonade for the attending police and fire personnel.

Meanwhile, Burns performed a number of duties during the luncheon – including serving as a hostess – but even after the last JPD official left she kept working and made her way to the Johnston Police and Fire Department headquarters to deliver food that Briarcliffe’s super staffers packaged for special delivery.

“I am excited to help keep this tradition alive at my new and beautiful home,” said Burns. “It’s a nice way for The Preserve to show our appreciation to our Johnston Police and Fire Departments. It was especially meaningful to have the opportunity to see everyone; it’s been a rough past year and a half. I think I can speak for just about all of us in healthcare, we truly appreciate our First Responders and the challenges they experienced during the Pandemic.”

Perhaps Razza, who takes pride in having a number of community-oriented events for First Responders, best summed up Briarcliffe rolling out the red carpet for fire and police personnel:

“I can’t thank Mr. Talwar, Jen Burns and the entire Preserve staff for the phenomenal luncheon they provided for us today,” said Razza.  “I was truly amaze and very appreciative to Mr. Talwar who is a fantastic community partner and huge supporter of First Responders. A special thanks to Jen (Burns) and the level of support she provides to Frist Responders on a consistent basis. We look for to strengthening our bond and continu3d service to our community.”


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