Save the date! The third annual Smyrna Heroes Gala takes place Saturday, September 8 at historic Brawner Hall. The Gala is a community wide effort to celebrate and honor Smyrna’s own heroes, those police officers, firefighters, and other public safety employees who protect and serve our community 24/7, 365 days a year. The Gala benefits the Smyrna Public Safety Foundation created to promote and support Smyrna’s Police and Fire Departments. Last year’s Gala netted over $33,000 for the SPSF, and this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better.
Revenue the Gala raises directly impacts the professional and personal lives of Smyrna’s heroes, such as Smyrna Police Department’s Officer Michael Smith. Smith wears several hats for the SPD: Crime Prevention Officer, Public Information Officer, and Grants Manager; he’s also in charge of reorganizing the Neighborhood Watch Program. As Smith reported, an unfortunate aspect of police work is that “90% of the time we deal with the 10 percent of the populace that causes trouble.” Unlike Smyrna firefighters who frequently receive kudos from grateful residents, Smyrna police officers may spend their shifts in atmospheres of suspicion and hostility. “We give people tickets; we arrest them and take them to jail,” he explained. “So it’s a rare moment when someone comes up and thanks us.”
Rare, yes; but such moments do occur. Smith recalled an incident that took place one Christmas season: “It’s our goal,” he related, “to get through the holiday season without someone’s door being kicked in and all the residents’ money and gifts stolen.” But that’s exactly what happened one Christmas Eve day when a Smyrna family was absent from their home. The family was devastated and called the police, but the officers could do little at that time for the family other than take the report.
Back at the station after investigating the break-in, Smith and the other officers involved passed the hat and were able to collect $500 from officers on duty. They went shopping for the kids, buying presents, and even had some money left over to give to the parents to help with their holiday celebration. But the story doesn’t end there.
About eight months later, Smith was called to a Smyrna school for a disturbance. As he was investigating, he noticed a little girl hanging around him. He smiled at her, and she said, “You don’t remember me, do you, Officer Smith?” He responded, “No, sweetie, I’m sorry, I don’t. Where did we meet?” As soon as she started telling him of a Christmas Eve break-in, he immediately remembered the situation. He asked her, “Did you have a good Christmas?” She smiled shyly and responded, “Yes, I did. Thank you.”
This unexpected encounter brightened his day. “It’s refreshing,” Smith related. “As police officers we sometimes get jaded. But when someone does come up and thank you, it reminds you that the community is behind you.” He summed up the experience by observing, “It’s why we do what we do.”
And it’s why the Smyrna Heroes Gala is behind such heroes in our community. So plan on showing your support at the Gala and enjoy fabulous entertainment, delicious food, fun-themed specialty drinks, and exciting auction items. For more information on the Gala see www.SmyrnaHeroesGala.com; visit Facebook at “Smyrna Auction for Heroes Gala” to read about the “Hero of the Week.”
Please visit and support the Gala’s sponsors as they support our heroes: Platinum level sponsors include Charter Cable, Just Graphics, Inc., The Wine Cellars. Gold level: Atkins Park Tavern/Smyrna, The Bright Side, Dave-FM 92.9, Love Street/Heart & Sole, Smyrna-Vinings Patch, Smyrna Wine Stroll, Tradebank Atlanta. Silver level: Akoma Events, The Art of Eric Waugh, Bogohost Websites, Glennda Baker & Associates, Glock USA, LED (Luminocity Entertainment Division), Tricycle Agency, United Distributors, Zucca Bar & Pizzeria. Bronze level: Arkle Veterinary Care, Artcraft Collision, Banks Chiropractic Center, City of Smyrna, Emory Adventist Hospital/Smyrna, Heritage at Vinings Neighborhood, Inn at Galleria, Jack’s New Yorker Deli, Kenny’s Great Pies, Legacy/Fox Creek Golf Courses, Luxtastic Cruises, MetroAtlanta Ambulance Inc., Regency Fine Art, Russell Landscaping, Smyrna Public Safety Foundation Inc., The Vinings Club.