PITTSTON — The smell of sausage and eggs wafted through the Pittston Fire House on the morning of Sept. 11 as volunteers from the Second Presbyterian Church prepared breakfast for the city’s first responders.
The meal was a way for the church to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and to express appreciation for the area’s fire, police and ambulance crews, said Pastor Dave Brague.
As she set a table in the station’s sunny kitchen overlooking Main Street, Sarah Lamar said she was excited when she and fellow members of the “Session” committee (a governing body of the church) decided to organize the breakfast, which was also extended to Laflin and Jenkins Township first responders.
“It’s an honor to do this,” she said.
“We usually have a ‘Welcome Back to Fall’ dinner at our church,” said committee member Elaine Bell. “I brought this idea of the breakfast up to the committee because it was the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Hopefully we can continue it every year.”
“We’re very happy to do this,” added church volunteer Karen Sobuta. “You get a lot out of helping others.”
Sobuta’s husband, Chester, daughter and son-in-law, Lauren and Chris Isenberg and another son-in-law, Joe Grillo also helped.
The group vividly recalled where they were and what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks began.
“I was on my way to play golf with a friend,” said Lamar, adding that she didn’t hear the news until she went to a restaurant for lunch after her golf game. “We couldn’t even eat,” she said.
“I was home doing the laundry and I turned on the TV after the first plane had already hit the tower,” added Sobuta. “To this day, every year when they show that, I get heart sick.”
Bell said she was working as a teacher’s assistant at Cookie Corner Childcare Center in West Wyoming that day.
“Someone came in and told us what happened, but we had to keep going on with our day for the kids,” she said. “It was very scary. I still have yet to watch all the films from that day. I just can’t.”
Brague said he was a pastor of a church in Cambridge, Wis., at the time. “My secretary saw it on her computer and thought it was a hoax,” he said. “I turned on the TV and I was in shock and disbelief. I planned a prayer service for that night.”
Pittston Fire Capt. Mike Chernouskas said no one from his department went to New York to assist, but would have if asked. “None of our guys went, but if they needed help, everyone was ready to go,” he said.
Mark Malvizzi, fire chief of the Laflin Volunteer Fire Department, said he’s been with the department for 36 years, and also works at Eastern Penn Supply Company. On that day, Malvizzi said, he was working in his office at EPSCO when he one of his customers, who was a New York native rushed in.
“He said in his New York accent: ‘A plane just hit the World Trade Center — it’s terrorism,’” Malvizzi said, adding that he and the man watched a TV in the office as the second plane hit. “The world changed that day for sure,” he said.
Malvizzi said he was happy that his department was invited to the breakfast.
“It’s nice that people out there recognize the dedication and effort of not only career (first responders) but also the volunteers,” he said. “Firefighting is a brotherhood and it’s so great to get together with fellow firefighters.”