PETERSBURG – A local man who fed the entire Petersburg police force two months ago extends the same kindness to the fire department.
Petersburg resident of 35 years, Bill Nicholson who purchased the Historic Hudson-Day House on High Street in June of 2019 loves Old Towne.
“It’s been tough to see the COVID-19 impact on Old Towne and the city. I’ve often described this place as a diamond in the rough,” said Nicholson. “Sadly the pandemic has slowed its evolution.”
What inspired Nicholson to purchase free meals for the Petersburg Fire Department?
“Truthfully…in hindsight, I felt I should’ve included the fire department,” said Nicholson. “The police department was so genuinely appreciative I knew I had to do the same for the fire department. Both departments clearly have great leaders.”
How does the phrase ‘It’s better to give them to receive’ apply to you?
“I love to give. Generosity and kindness come in many forms and denominations. Giving with no expectations of return is so rewarding for me,” said Nicholson. “For example, when I see children selling lemonade to raise maybe $10 or $20 for their cause, the beams of pride and happiness on their faces is priceless.”
Why did Nicholson select Local Vibe Café once again instead of one of the many other restaurants in Old Towne?
“I frequent all local eateries,” said Nicholson. “Local Vibe though is off the beaten path and is not as established as The Dixie or Longstreet, as examples, and I felt Local Vibe needed the boost.”
Who in the fire department heard the good news first?
“I initially contacted Battalion Chief Partin,” said Nicholson. “I’d met him once before and was impressed by his genuine character and the same of the other fire personnel. They are all so helpful.”
Nicholson personally handed meal cards out when he attended the ribbon-cutting at the reopening of the City of Petersburg’s Fire Station #4 on August 29.
How did the firemen react when Nicholson handed them a gift card?
“Again…they are a humble and grateful group of people and reacted accordingly but with pride too,” said Nicholson. “They…like everyone…enjoy being recognized for their efforts and commitment to our great city. Their jobs are not easy.”
How many meals did Nicholson feed to the first responders and their team members?
In July, Nicholson supplied 130 cards with four meal choices to the entire police department including the custodians, secretaries, etc.
Once again, Nicholson’s intentional act of kindness was all-inclusive and included every firefighter and their team members at the fire department.
Eighty recipients had three days Thursday, Sept. 3 through Saturday, Sept. 5 in which to redeem their gift cards.
Jokingly I asked Nicholson how many coffee cans he has buried in his yard. He laughed and quickly responded, “Not enough!”
What does Nicholson think his Great, Great, Great Grandfather Patrick Raftery who founded Raftery Commission Merchants in Petersburg in 1853 would have to say about his grandson’s community involvement?
“I hope he’d be proud. I know my Great Grandmother was generous,” said Nicholson. “I recall many stories of her generosity, so perhaps it’s hereditary.”
With the pandemic still upon us, Nicolson’s deliberate act of kindness was greatly appreciated.
“We felt extremely grateful when Mr. Nicholson personally stopped by Fire Station #2 and told us about his meal donation to Local Vibe Café,” said Interim Battalion Chief Danny Partin, Sr. “Like many fire departments Petersburg Fire personnel are faced with many challenges, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a wonderful feeling to have someone from our community express their appreciation to each of our member’s sacrifices,” added Partin. “We are extremely excited to select a wonderful meal from Local Vibe Café’s tasty menu selection.
What did Petersburg Police Chief Kenneth Miller think of Nicholson’s generous initiative?
“Mr. Nicholson’s act of kindness is fantastic for our firefighters,” said Petersburg Police Chief Kenneth Miller.
Miller stated he could not begin to count how many organizations and people who have provided meals and other items for all of public safety.
“Everyone has helped us and stepped up with respect to providing food and things for us,” said Miller. “Kindness from people is shown not just by what they give, but how they act, and I’ve seen many acts of kindness.”
Nicholson stirs the economy in a healthy way.
“Bill’s support is an example of how citizens in Petersburg help each other in times of need,” said Director of Economic Development Carthan F. Currin III who dropped by Local Vibe Café for a bite to eat. “It’s a great gesture to assist homegrown businesses in our city.”
How did it feel being asked to prepare meals a second time for such a worthy endeavor?
“I feel even more honored than last time,” said Local Vibe Café owner Donnie Cornwell. “This go-around, it will be for local firefighters and they will be getting the same delicious options as the Police Department.”
Cornwell was happy to report he has witnessed an increase in the number of police officers that visit his eatery since Nicholson treated them earlier this summer.
“I think it’s worth pointing out that these men and women each chose their professions to take care of us as a community. It’s important that we show them that we care about them which includes caring about their health and what they are eating,” said Cornwell. “We care about them just as much as they care about us, but it’s not every day that we get to prove it. Bill is proving it…a second time.”
Nicholson, wearing his philanthropic heart on his sleeve, reaches out to the community.
“What positive contribution is each of us making to others instead of just negativity,” stated Nicholson. “Someone famous once said, ‘We catch a lot more flies with honey.’”