Dover Fire Department members get boost from coffee delivery

Firefighters, from left, Joe Schorck, Amanda Carey, Troy Christiansen, Life Member James Hurley Jr., Past Chief Brian Bashista, firefighters Donnell Graham Jr. and Collin Chesley meet on Sunday. Not pictured are Assistant Chief David Carey, Past Chief Sean Christiansen and firefighter Brian Cullen. (Submitted photo/Dover Fire Department)

DOVER — As her own business struggles, Kristin Stonesifer has never been more giving.

The House of Coffi owner has regularly provided free beverages throughout the community during the pandemic.

Last Sunday morning, seven longtime Dover Fire Department members felt the generosity.

They’ve missed sitting at the station’s “Liars Table” during regular “Coffee Club” morning meetings since COVID-19 arrived.

Ms. Stonesifer brewed 10 cups of coffee — nine regular, one decaf —from her business at 14 E. Loockerman St. to at least temporarily fill the void.

Firefighters on the 24-hour duty crew spent an hour delivering the courtesy brew to the members. They rode in an engine and utility vehicle with a pickup truck following along in case a call arrived.

Past Chief Kline Kemp Jr., 81, admitted to becoming emotional upon delivery.

“When you get old your tear ducts hang low so it doesn’t take much to tear up,” he said.

That’s the reaction Ms. Stonesifer wanted, whether coming from older firefighters, health care workers or grocery store staff she’s provided for.

“Everyone is so grateful,” Ms. Stonesifer said. “You would think I’m bringing them a brick of gold.”

House of Coffi owner Kristin Stonesifter, middle front, is pictured with, from left, past chief Brian Bashista and assistant chief David Carey. Back row, from left, are firefighters Troy Christiansen, Joe Schorck, Donnell Graham Jr., Collin Chesley and Amanda Carey. (Submitted photo/Dover Fire Department)

Count Life Member James Hurley Jr., 84, among the surprised.

“My wife and I were sitting on the back porch and I heard a truck out front and said ‘What the (heck) is going on?’ ” he recounted.

The quick visit was a welcome respite from the solitude that comes from waiting out the crisis.

“We have grandkids and great grandkids and we can’t communicate like we normally do,” Mr. Hurley said. “We like to do family things like dinners but now we can only sit on the porch while they stand out in the yard for visits.”

The emergency has no end in sight and the retired pals can’t commiserate for now.

“You miss it when you’re used to going to the station and telling war stories,” Past Chief Ray Osika, 72, said. “We like to challenge each other’s memories about what actually happened, what went wrong and what went right.”

The risks involved

Renewing the camaraderie now isn’t worth the associated health risks of contracting COVID-19.

“It’s been a long haul away from it but if we have to wait longer, we’ll wait longer,” Mr. Osika said. “I’m sure it will be safer that way and that’s what matters the most at our age.”

As Mr. Hurley explained, “I’ve lived this long and seen wars, a lot of things, but this is different.

“I’ve been hunkered down for a month and a half now. It’s really been different but with my age and my wife’s, we should not be around other people until something changes.”

COVID-19’s arrival has “put a huge crimp in business,” Ms. Stonesifer said. “We’re living on hope and goodwill right now.”

An eight-week Payroll Protection Plan can support overhead and payroll to a point, but nothing replaces regular customers and no restrictions.

Thankfully, the coffee shop has received $600 in donations “that go a long way to helping others out,” Ms. Stonesifer said.

“I feel like it’s what I do. I love serving the community and most everyone likes either hot coffee or iced coffee, hot tea or iced tea.”

Executing the delivery operation were active members Joe Schorck, Amanda Carey, Troy Christiansen, Brian Bashista, Donnell Graham Jr., Collin Chelsey, David Carey, Brian Cullen and Sean Christiansen.

Other veterans on the receiving list were Charles Boyer, Carleton Carey Sr., James Howlett, and John LeCompte. Allen Moore Jr. wasn’t home.

“The fire service is very rich in tradition and it’s important to learn the history from them because we have to know where we were to know where we’re going,” Mr. Christiansen said.

Echoed Ms. Stonesifer, “The elders within the community offer a lot of wisdom.

“They’re still critical for offering a lot of historical knowledge and are the underpinning of the community.”

At Dover FD’s station on Kenton Road early Wednesday afternoon, face mask- and glove-wearing firefighters delivered lunch to eight members of the “Station 2 Lunch Crew” who remained in their vehicles and followed cones for social distancing. Prewrapped sandwiches courtesy of the Christiansen family were included, along with a bag each of chips and cookies, along with a bottle of water. The group has traditionally met on Wednesdays for lunch and the opportunity to reminisce, Mr. Christiansen said.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.