During almost the very same week that I was so warmly greeted and received back into the family of City of Sunny Isles Beach employees, another officer and a soldier was being “welcomed home” to U.S. soil after his deployment in the Middle East. We are both coming home and back to work, together.
Officer Albert Porro defended us and his county in Iraq. Upon his return home after a very long year away, he will now resume defending and protecting his community as an officer here in Sunny Isles Beach. And so will I. And we are both VERY, VERY HAPPY to be back home.
On Monday, January 31, I arrived early and headed over to the school to greet the traffic and the students. As I walked over I was greeted with a chorus of “Hi, Chief Maas, Welcome Back” from the groups of kids walking and riding their bikes to school. It warmed my heart and put a very wide smile on my face. They remembered, I thought to myself.
After school traffic was over, I returned to City Hall only to be greeted so warmly by many of my colleagues and fellow employees. “Welcome Home” was the most common greeting. And it truly felt like coming home. It made me wonder how Officer Albert Porro felt upon his return not only to Sunny Isles Beach but to the United States of America, just the fact that he is coming safe, and intact, is an answered prayer for us and how much greater to come home to a job, a city, a family that means so much.
“In my absence, I was never separated from my family at home. In fact, I was able to spend more time with them,” Porro said. Officer Porro’s absence separated him from his wife and two sons. I cannot imagine how that reunion must have felt for him. Our separations were different.
Additionally, I am so proud to announce that our Officer Porro was awarded the Bronze Star in Washington D.C. upon his return to the country. Could the City of Sunny Isles Beach be any more proud of one of their own?
But there are several common bonds and feelings we both share. Like GRATITUDE! Gratitude to God for keeping us safe and healthy enough to return. Gratitude to our Interim City Manager and Commissioners, most especially those who made this happen. To our families and our colleagues and co-workers who stayed in touch and better yet welcomed us back. To you, our residents and our community for the undying support we received from you and your gratitude.
Sunny Isles Beach is a unique place. It has so much to offer. It has the greatest employees I have ever worked with. They ascribe to the philosophy of “how can I help you” and customer service, above and beyond. But more importantly, they ascribe to a sense of family and family love, and that is what we felt most, when we were told, “WELCOME HOME.”
I would be remiss if I did not specifically extend my deepest gratitude to Mayor Edelcup, Vice-Mayor Thaler, City Attorney Hans Ottinot and Interim City Manager Jorge Vera, for their support, confidence, kindness and persistence. They clearly have one common goal: The safety of and service to this city and its residents and business community. And that is our pledge to you! God Bless You and God Bless America.