Bubba and I attended an event last week. Not a typical Christmas party, this one was sponsored by Pemco Insurance as a benefit for five local police officers who recently lost their lives in the line of duty. Bubba's company works closely with Pemco, a company that is closely connected to the local Northwest community and I was looking forward to getting to know some of the people he spends so much time with.
Over the past two weeks there have been dozens of memorials and fund-raisers in response to these deaths and the community just keeps rallying. From a local pizza chain donating all their profits last Tuesday (to the tune of $125,000.00) to the formal memorial service at McChord AFB, the outpouring of love and support has been tremendous.
The executives at Pemco designed a casino night and there were a hundred or so people in attendance. Most of us were connected in some way to Pemco, either employees or vendors, but as I stood at the blackjack table I met two women who had heard about the benefit and walked from their neighborhood just down the street to join the festivities. Within minutes we realized that the three of us share the same first name and were all novices at blackjack.
After dinner, Bubba and I met another woman who contracts with Pemco and her husband, a Seattle homicide detective. At first, his presence at the poker table was intimidating, but after several hands we all loosened up. The evening was winding down and we needed to turn our chips in for raffle tickets pretty soon, so I started playing with wild abandon. Ten minutes later, I had turned my $10,000 into $100,000 and cleaned out everyone at the table.
Most of the evening was filled with laughter as this room full of strangers got to know each other and learned to play Vegas-style games with very generous dealers. At one point, the marketing director for Pemco got up to remind us of the reason we were there and when the room went silent in memory, the air was electric. There was never any mention of the circumstances of the officers' deaths, only an acknowledgement of this wonderful, connected community who has shown so much desire to support those who support us every day. I have never been so proud to be a part of this warm, giving place.