It’s often been said the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach.
For Norma Haynes, it’s a strategy that has allowed her to show deep and ongoing gratitude towards first responders for over 20 years.
After forgoing last year’s Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon due to COVID-19 concerns, the annual event resumed this year with a record turnout.
Hundreds of employees of Coweta County’s numerous city and county public safety departments gathered for the 22nd annual luncheon at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Thursday.
The annual event, organized by Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Committee members, was free and open to all divisions of public safety – including law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services and the court system.
The meal was provided by Warden Larry Clifton with the Coweta County Prison, and a long table covered in every kind of dessert imaginable was also available thanks to many giving local Coweta residents.
“I always worry we’re not going to have enough deserts,” Haynes said.
Haynes said she’s passionate about the luncheon, seeing it as a way to unite the local public safety departments. It is a day designed for fellowship and fun for the many public safety employees who deserve appreciation, she said.
“It’s a dream of mine, and I can’t thank our community enough for coming through, so to be able to, in this small way, show our gratitude for these people who are protecting us,” Haynes said. “It means more to me than ever (that) we have such a wonderful group."
The Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Foundation was formed over 20 years ago in an effort to bring awareness to the community regarding the hard work that first responders do in Coweta County.
As public safety agencies are trying to work more with less, the foundation also helps raise money to purchase necessary items for both police and fire departments that aren’t in their budgets.
The foundation has also donated thousands of dollars toward ongoing medical assistance for several public safety employees.
Along with purchasing equipment for first responders, the group also awards scholarships to high school graduates who are children of Coweta County public safety employees.
In a room packed with first responders, the sounds of scanner radios crackled through the air, and many had to get their lunches to go, as they continued responding to calls.
For Haynes, her gratitude for public safety is unbounded, and she says it’s all possible thanks to the support her organization receives from a grateful community.
“I started out as the mother of public safety and now, looking at so many new faces, I believe I’m now the grandmother of public safety,” she said. “I’m so pleased to see so many of you here and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the work you do for our community."
Hundreds of employees of Coweta County’s numerous city and county public safety departments gathered for the 22nd annual luncheon at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Thursday.Newnan City Manager Cleatus Phillips serves a plate of hot food to Newnan Firefighter David Mckenzie during Thursday’s luncheon.Members of the Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Foundation display a custom-made cake by Heirloom Donuts expressing their gratitude. From left are Beverly Yeager, Angela Yarbrough, Pat Craven, Lisa Hines, Linda Kelley, Norma Haynes, Sheila Davis, Beth Headley, Jacki Parker, Angela McRae, Ruth Ann Embrey, Jim McGuffey and Nancy McGuffey.Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Foundation member Pat Craven and Sheriff Lenn Wood share a smile during the annual luncheon, honoring first responders.Norma Hayes speaks to the audience during Thursday’s annual luncheon. Haynes helped form The Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Foundation in an effort to honor and recognize the hard work of first responders in Coweta County.