Police Inspector Verdell Johnson takes a selfie with 108-year-old Fannie Mae Steward Ausby during a police appreciation breakfast. — Photo by Samaria Bailey

The Renaissance Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center hosted an inaugural appreciation breakfast this week for the West and Southwest Philadelphia police districts.

Officers from the 12th, 16th, 18th and 19th districts attended the event, which offered a menu of french toast, omelets, potatoes, bacon, grits, fruit and coffee.

“It was a good idea to create a partnership and be neighborly,” said Timothy McCracken, the Renaissance director of recreation services. “They are definitely folks we lean on in the community. They have difficult jobs and are not thanked enough. This is an opportunity to serve those who serve us.”

Fannie Mae Steward Ausby, the center’s oldest resident at 108 years old, also greeted the officers.

“They’re human just like us,” she said. “Police have been around since before you were born.”

Ausby’s age amazed several of the officers including Clayon Parkins Sr. who said, “It was great, I hope I can live to be 108.”

Verdell Johnson, the Western Division inspector, took a selfie with Ausby.

“I’m posting it to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,” he said. “I’m that proud to see somebody live to that age.” As for the appreciation breakfast, Johnson said he was “touched. I’ve been on the force 27 years and events like these always touch me. We see people at their worst. When they are calling 911 it’s not to say I’m happy.”

Captain Robin Wimberly of the 18th district agreed.

“Often we are called when things aren’t going very well. So we see people at their worst,” she said. “When you build bridges like these, they see us as people not just (law enforcement). It’s a great way for them to say thank you to us and give us an opportunity to meet some of the residents.”

During the breakfast the center’s administrators and a handful of senior residents greeted the officers and thanked them for their service.

“I just want to welcome everyone here. I want everybody to eat and have a good time,” said resident Triphena Stevenson, in a greeting to the officers. “We are all family and look out for each other. When something happens you call them for help. So we should help them.”

Seeing all the officers also prompted Stevenson to recall her own partnership with law enforcement years ago.

“When I lived at 16th and Reed, there were a lot of robbers. I would notify the 17th district and I would also go to the meetings to explain everything. We had meetings to make the block better.”

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