Waterbury first responders hold thank you parade for YMCA taking care of their kids during pandemic, city gifted much-needed PPE

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Waterbury first responders held a parade Tuesday to honor the staff at the city’s YMCA for taking care of their kids while they work essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waterbury hasn’t seen many good days during the coronavirus pandemic. The latest numbers released by Mayor Neil O’Leary’s office show Waterbury has 1,238 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 109 deaths associated with COVID-19.

Tuesday, though, two events took place that gave some hope to this community.

The first, a drive-by parade by Waterbury first responders. Police cars and fire trucks roared with their sirens on making noise and making a statement to workers at the Greater Waterbury YMCA.

It was a thank you to them for starting a free daycare program for children of first responders during this pandemic so they could go to work and do the tough jobs of protecting and serving our community while also knowing their children are protected.

“It’s a huge relief,” said Deputy Fire Chief Richard Paltauf. “You don’t have to worry about where your child is going to go for a single parent or someone who’s in need of daycare.”

The program has been going on for several weeks now. Workers and staff at The Y keep the kids occupied with games, group activities, and fun in the gym. They maintain social distancing; they’ve beefed up cleaning inside; and no one is allowed in without having a mask on or their temperature taken.

“One thing that my staff provides is a distraction of different activities throughout the day so the kids are able to have fun during these trying times,” said Jim O’Rourke, the CEO of the Greater Waterbury YMCA.

The workers at The Y were clapping right alongside the kids when the trucks and police cars came screaming by.

“Because we put in a lot of hard work and so it feels good to be acknowledged,” said Kristen Jones, the Child Development Director.

The first responders, themselves, got acknowledgement Tuesday, too, outside Waterbury City Hall in the form of a gift. Thousands of pieces of PPE were delivered thanks to the Grace Farms Foundation.

Rod Khattabi greeted Mayor Neil O’Leary with boxes of face masks, face shields, gloves, and more than 21,000 pieces of PPE to protect Waterbury first responders and front line health care workers.

Mayor O’Leary telling News 8 the generous gift came just in time.

“We were a little bit nervous about the supply that we had and this gift today will get us through this,” the mayor said. “We are eternally grateful.”

“We’re here for you,” said Rod Khattabi, who heads The Grace Farms Foundation. “And we’ll try to help as much as we can. Whatever we can do to serve our first responders or health care workers.”

The mayor and the first responders weren’t the only ones thankful for these gifts today. So were the children who know their moms and dads are in the business of keeping them – and so many others – safe.

“Thank you for saving us from dangers,” one little boy said, cheering on the fire trucks.

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