Poughkeepsie Journal James Marconi
FISHKILL - About 15 residents of the Hudson Firemen’s Home stepped off their bus to a round of hugs, handshakes and smiles on Saturday.
Afterward, the members were treated to a dinner social hosted by the Rombout Fire Company in Fishkill. The day’s planned activities also included a brief tour of the firehouse and bingo game.
In operation for more than 100 years, the Fireman’s Home is a nursing home for volunteer firefighters, their spouses and members of the ladies auxiliary in New York state. Located in Hudson, the home includes a new facility completed last year that houses 92 residents.
The second annual dinner at Rombout, held for these men and women, is “a giving back of thanks for the years of service that they did for their communities,” First Assistant Chief Wes Hall said.
For Hall, the event was also about bringing family together - his father Wally, formerly an assistant chief at the Hughsonville Fire Department, was among the residents at the social.
“We just like to have them out and get them involved,” said Ladies Auxiliary President Patty Lamoree. The Rombout Fire Company “has the resources to do it, so why not share it?”
Connecting with Firemen’s Home residents doesn’t stop with the dinner, Lamoree said, but is a part of overall charitable efforts. The ladies auxiliary hosts an annual Christmas party at the home, and last year donated several electric wheelchairs for use by residents.
Billy Rosenhagen has lived at the Firemen’s Home for four years and said it has been excellent.
Rosenhagen, a firefighter for 28 years in Ossining, said he became a volunteer because he wanted to serve his community.
Sometimes it was difficult, Rosenhagen said, recalling a “railroad station that went up. We lost about three people from the railroad. It was hard for us to accept; we tried to rescue them.”
Also at the dinner, the fire company presented a check for $500 to Paul O’Brien, a Firemen’s Home trustee.
Residents at the home remain active, O’Brien said. They have three buses to transport them, and residents frequently attend picnics, parties, pancake breakfasts and parades.
Sandra Poppoon, a six-year resident, said she enjoys going out on the various trips because she loves interacting with other people and talking with her friends.
Back at home, Poppoon said, the other residents become like a second family and have a place in their community.
“Everybody, no matter what condition they’re in, has gifts and talents given by God that they can use,” she said.