Last Updated on September 20, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
The ability to say “Thank You First Responders” is tricky. Usually, if they have arrived, you are in an emergency situation, so there often isn’t time or opportunity to show your appreciation. Often folks go back, after the emergency, to thank individual or whole crews of rescuers. And that’s great. First responders such as police officers, EMS workers and firefighters really love to get those notes and tokens of gratitude from the people they have rescued.
We can, of course, do more. Homes for Heroes thinks we should show appreciation for first responders on a community or national level. We do that by helping, and rewarding, first responders to find a new home or sell their existing home. Help us do that by letting any first responders in your life know about us.
“All the first responders have done so much for me, for the community, for the city, for the country. To be able to repay some of that debt that I feel I owe them personally, that we all owe them, is the best feeling.” – Jon Stewart
National First Responder Appreciation Day
October 28 is the day set aside for National First Responders Day. On that day we show our appreciation to first responders who serve our communities and our nation. These heroes risk a lot, sometimes everything, as they go to work each day. Thanking first responders seems like the least we can do, but it can slip our minds. October 28 is a good wake up for all communities who want to celebrate their first responder heroes.
There are 4.6 million first responders in the U.S. and they show up in all kinds of emergencies. This day began in response to the killing of Andrew Collier after the Boston marathon bombing and subsequent investigations. The All Clear Foundation is a first responder organization at the forefront of establishing a Nation First Responders Day, which was finally established on June 7, 2019. Some states, such as Colorado, were already celebrating the day before it became a national observance. Since it’s a relatively new national holiday, it’s a great chance to establish some traditions such as putting out a first responder yard sign and sending a letter of thanks from the community.
Other Days that Say Thank You First Responders
Since first responders cover a lot of professions, here are many ways to say thank you first responders throughout the year.
National EMS Week
The EMS professionals in your community have their own week of appreciation. We celebrate National EMS Week in May (in 2022, May 15-21). The week was made official by President Gerald Ford in 1974 as a way to show our debt of gratitude to EMS practitioners and the important work they do in our nation’s communities. It is sponsored by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
A few ways you can show appreciation during this week include:
- Organize a community reception to connect medical emergency survivors and EMS personnel.
- Encourage your city or to enact a proclamation honoring local EMS.
- Join in the National EMS Memorial Bike Ride, (July 22 in Boston, Fayetteville, St. Paul, Snowmass, Reno)
- Drop off a thank you note to your local EMS station.
- Place yellow, white, and blue ribbons on trees in honor of EMS during the week.
- Gift cards for a local restaurant will be appreciated by any EMS Team.
- Create thank-you cards, perhaps in the classroom, with your kids to show your local EMS professionals how much you care
- Host a blood drive recognizing EMS Week.
- Donate money to the organizations that support EMS professionals
Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Events
As you might guess, there is more than one national event to celebrate our law enforcement professionals. They do a lot–across the spectrum–to keep us safe so it makes sense to honor them repeatedly.
National Peace Officers Memorial day is every May 15, in Washington, D.C, and it is a solemn day to remember the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their communities–their lives. This national observance was signed into law by John F. Kennedy in 1961. Officers and families from across the nation gather at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to honor those who have fallen in the call of duty. The new names of fallen officers are added to the memorial – over 22,000 names of fallen officers are on the memorial. The memorial service is sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police and police forces across the U.S.
National Police Week
National Police Week coincides and includes Peace Officers Memorial Day. The celebration takes place in Washington D.C., and events are scheduled throughout the week. The week brings between 25,000 and 40,000 officers and families of fallen officers to Washington.
We are grateful for those who paid the ultimate price for our communities’ safety. We are also thankful for those who face life threatening situations and put themselves in harm’s way on the front lines every day. Doing their duty may be all the thanks they need, as they often say, but we can do more. Gratitude and appreciation for these heroes is what makes us a better community.
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day
In addition to the celebrations in May, there is also the National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, every year on January 9. This is not just for the officers who have fallen but for every police officer and law enforcement professional that keeps our community together. Here are some ways to thank police officers in your area in either January or May.
Other Ways to Say Thank You First Responders in Law Enforcement
- Send a letter of appreciation to your local police department or sheriff’s office, e.g. “dear first responders”.
- Drop off gift cards at the local precinct.
- Wear a blue ribbon on these days to show your support of law enforcement officers.
- Share an article, or your own personal story, about how law enforcement officers have helped you.
- Attend appreciation events in your community.
- Get family members involved by having your kids to do this law enforcement coloring sheet, or this version, and deliver it to your local police stations.
International Firefighters’ Day
This day was created, in the beginning, to honor the loss of five firefighters in Victoria, Australia, in 1998. They were caught off guard in a wildfire when the wind changed.. One year later, on May 4, the world united to recognize the courage and sacrifices of all fire fighters. May 4th is also St. Florean’s Day, the patron saint of firefighters.
As awareness grew for International Firefighters’ Day, new traditions were born. Fire departments started a “Sound Off” on the first Sunday in May. At noon, fire stations will turn on their sirens for 30 seconds, followed by a minute’s silence to honor all firefighters who have been lost in the line of duty.
International Firefighters Day is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Ways to Celebrate Firefighters
- Porch Lights – The NFFF asks people to change the lights on their porch to red and display them on the night of May 4. It’s a great way to show support for those who put themselves in harms way. You can let them know in advance if you are participating through a form on their website. If you take a photo or video of your red-lit porch, post it on social media using #Shine4Firefighters.
- Drop off gift baskets at the fire station. No one says no to food, especially firefighters.
- Post Photos of Your Firefighter – For those firefighters who have made a difference in your life, post a photo or video of them on your favorite social media platform. Use #ThisIsMyFirefighter to let others know.
- Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate – The NFFF website has a downloadable coloring sheet so your kids can thank a firefighter with art. Drop it by a local station or post a photo of it and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are posting this artwork on social media use #WeThankFFs.
- Involve the Community – Get your local community involved in a volunteer event on International Firefighters Day. The NFFF has flyers and graphics for yard signs you can use. If you are part of a neighborhood group, put up the the flyers around the area. Want to go one step further?
- Contact your city council to encourage them to make a proclamation (especially if it’s been a hard year for fires) to say thank you first responder firefighters.
How Homes for Heroes Says Thank You First Responders
Homes for Heroes was created shortly after the events of 9/11 to give back to the first responder heroes who sacrifice for the rest of us. We’ve been at it for more than 20 years.
When a first responder shows an interest in buying or selling (or refinancing) a home. We do three things:
- We connect them to one of our real estate specialists.
- We connect them to one of our mortgage lenders.
- We pay them Hero Rewards® when you close on your house.
Our real estate and mortgage specialists pay an average of $3,000 when first responders buy, sell or refinance a home mortgage. These Hero Rewards savings are our way to say thank you first responders (as well as military, healthcare workers and teachers).
Our specialists know your community and understand how to navigate the housing and mortgage markets. They can then maximize the savings for you. These specialists joined Homes for Heroes specifically to serve heroes.
If you know a first responder – or are one yourself – who is ready to begin the process of buying or selling a home, sign up today and speak with one of our local specialists. There’s no obligation and it’s easy to qualify with minimal paperwork.
Homes for Heroes Foundation Grants to First Responder Organizations
To expand its Circle of Giving, Homes for Heroes, Inc., donates a portion of its earnings to the Homes for Heroes Foundation. So, every time a hero buys or sells a home using the Homes for Heroes program, they are helping heroes in need.
- The Homes for Heroes Foundation was able to award a $10,000 Hero Grant to Ezras Nashim to support their mission and help cover costs of their EMT training for a crew of women EMTs.
- Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Foundation’s Disaster Area Relief Team (DART) received a $10,000 grant from the Homes for Heroes Foundation. The dollars were used to assist officers displaced by natural or man-made catastrophic events.
- The North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation received at $10,000 grant to expand their memorial that honors firefighters who have given their lives in service to their community.
Homes for Heroes employees and local specialists appreciate our country’s heroes and make it a priority to say thank you first responders for all their hard work, and what they do to serve and assist others. Our sincere thanks for your service.