First responders put their lives on the line every time they answer a call for help.

On Tuesday, the community and first responders had the opportunity to get to know each other, outside of an emergency situation.

Everyone deserves a night out with friends and family.

People got the chance to do just that with block parties, cookouts, exhibits and youth activities, but most importantly, a chance to meet with first responders and enjoy a nice night.

“It’s a way to introduce ourselves so that people realize we are a part of the community. We went to school here, we grew up here and we live in the community. So when we don’t have our uniforms on, we’re regular people just like everyone else,” said Captain Martin R. Davis, Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

United Way of Erie County put together over 20 different events throughout Erie County with thousands expected to participate.

Strangers can become friends, first responders can become trusted allies, and the faces behind the agencies they represent become clearer.

“I think too much anymore there’s a lot of division. People don’t even know their neighbors and things like that. So it’s nice to get everyone out, especially those who are living around in the area to make that community bond stronger,” said Nick Jakubowski, drug and alcohol outpatient counselor.

Along with the games, food and music, representatives from countless public services were out spreading the word about resources they can offer the Erie community.

In the end, Capt. Davis said it’s opportunities like Tuesday night that shaped him into who he is today and added he was in the same position as these kids enjoying the night out.

“When I was younger, I remember meeting the sheriff and meeting the police and thought that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people when I got older and wanted to put that uniform on. Hopefully, that happens with some of these young boys and girls here tonight,” Davis continued.

A family that we spoke with said off-camera they look forward to the celebration every year and that they’re thankful for everything our first responders do.