For the fourth year, the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Secaucus Exempt Firemen’s Association will hold a Valentine’s Breakfast to raise money for charitable causes. The event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 9, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Senior Center, 101 Centre Ave.
“It’s a pancake breakfast,” said Kelly Schoch, president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, “but we’ll have eggs, potatos, bacon, sausage, baked goods and breads. Everything is being donated by various businesses in town or by individuals.”
The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors or children under 12. The majority of the proceeds this year will go to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, established in 1898 to care for the aged, indigent and disabled firefighters of New Jersey. “It’s a retirement home, open to any firemen in New Jersey,” Schoch said. “Part of our charter is to raise funds for them.”
The firemen and the ladies
In order to be designated as exempt, a fireman must meet specific requirements, including serving as a volunteer firefighter for at least seven years. “It means they put their time and reached a certain level of volunteerism,” explained Schoch. Exempt firemen receive certain perks and seniority, while continuing to actively fight fires.
“To be a member of the Ladies’ Auxiliary you must have a relation who’s an exempt firemen — a husband, father, brother,” she said. “This is an old organization, started in 1932. We used to do a lot of things here in town, a lot of functions.”
In fact, years ago Secaucus hosted two ladies’ auxiliary: one for the regular firemen and one for the exempt firemen. The regular one eventually closed and over time the exempt chapter dwindled in numbers.
“There’s a certain dedication the whole family puts in, not just the fireman.” –Kelly Schoch
For instance at Thanksgiving the group collected canned goods for a food bank, and has donated money to the Secaucus Emergency Fund.
“I joined because my husband was always going out and doing things. I wanted to do something too, to give back,” said Schoch. “There’s a certain dedication the whole family puts in, not just the fireman.”
According to former Fire Department Chief Ray Cieciuch, past breakfasts have been extremely popular, attracting 200 to 300 people. For the first three years they were held at the Washington Hook & Ladder firehouse, but since the firehouse is currently undergoing renovation the event was moved this year to the Senior Center.
“We have some wives that are not technically members, but they help out,” Schoch said of the upcoming event. “For example our table displays are provided by Colette Hardy, who’s not a member but she might as well be. Every year she does our centerpieces. Others will donate whatever they can toward the function.”
“It’s more than just the ladies who do this,” she continued. “The firemen pitch in, the whole community. It’s a wonderful show of support.”
For tickets and information call Alexis Leppin at (201) 723-5521 or Vickie Cieciuch at (201) 388-1058.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.