Letter To You: Ferreri Edition

Gary getting a promotion.

To start the New Year, The New York Times ran a “7-Day Happiness Challenge.”

I thought it was great.

I completed the challenge and I have to say, it made me feel happy.

But of all the exercises they suggested, Day 4’s challenge resonated most deeply.

Here’s what the Times asked its readers to do.

“For today’s exercise, we’re going to get vulnerable and tell an important person in our lives how we feel about them. “Think about what they have done for you in your life,” said Dr. Bob Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of the new book “The Good Life.” “Where, or who, would you be without them?”

Consider what you would thank this person for if you thought you would never see them again. Take a few minutes and write down what you would tell them, with as many specific examples as possible. Don’t overthink it: It can be both dashed off and straight from the heart. Think of it as a eulogy for the living. Then send it — by email, text, handwritten note, whatever. The medium doesn’t matter, sending it does.”

Yes, it does.

The happiest people take time to cherish the people they love, Dr. Waldinger said. Writing a note of appreciation to someone, research has shown, has an immediate positive impact on feelings of well-being and connectedness, for both you and the recipient.

I believe that.

I publish this blog every Monday morning in part to do just that—connect. And my writing often focuses on the people I have come to love and admire.

It feels good to write about special people who touch us. It makes us feel grateful and in a world that often feels a little off kilter (to put it mildly) that’s a good thing.

So am I going to up my game, or at least the frequency in which I devote this space to letting people know how cool I think they are.

With that intro, I want to send a shout out to Lt. Gary Ferreri of the Delray Beach Police Department.

Let’s start by saying that to know Gary is to love Gary.

He’s warm, funny, devoted, and accessible. He’s a wonderful police officer because he wears his affection for this community on his sleeve. He loves this place, and the community loves him back.

While still a very young man, Gary has already done a lot for his department, his city, and his friends. He’s the guy you can call at 2 in the morning and know that he will help. He’s been an officer for 16 years now and I have watched him go up the ranks and do well at every stop along the way.

If you google Lt. Ferreri you will see story after story of service.

Whether hosting youth football camps, delivering blankets to the homeless, warning residents how to avoid burglars or going to Washington D.C. during National Police Week to honor fallen officers, the common thread is protecting and serving. Another trait he exhibits: respect for others and the job itself.

Delray Beach lost an officer named John Kennedy in 1974. Officer Kennedy was ambushed in his cruiser while working on West Atlantic Avenue. He was 32 years old, had five children and a pregnant wife at home.

On Officer Kennedy’s Officer Down Memorial Page, Gary posted the following note. I found it touching and instructive. Read this note and you will know Gary’s heart.

“Today is a day of great sadness; Yesterday afternoon two NYPD Officers were murdered in cold blood, 3AM this morning a Tarpon Springs Police Officer was also murdered. I woke up and felt that I needed to visit you on this page.

Although I never met you and probably would’ve never met you as you would have been retired after I started my career at the DBPD in 2007, I feel like I have known you forever. I am honored to say that your son John has accepted me into your family as if I was his own son for the simple fact that WE share the same profession. I met your son, daughter in-law and grandchildren many years ago responding to a burglary that occurred across the street from your old home. Since then, we have become the best of friends. I have gone on vacation with your family, even been pranked by your grandchildren multiple times (the best was when they put flour and glitter in the A/C vents in my car, “priceless”). Last year, I had the most amazing honor and privilege of escorting your family to Washington DC’s National Police Memorial and hope to go again this coming year. This week I will be having Christmas dinner with your family and couldn’t be more happy.

Your spirit lives on at the Delray Beach Police Department and you will never be forgotten.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

Gary suffered the loss of his father recently. Attendance at the funeral was huge.

I couldn’t be there, but I was with Gary in spirit as so many were. We appreciate this amazing young man who has given us 16 wonderful years and G-d willing many more.

I wanted to remind Gary that this community cares for him because he cares for us.

If you see him around town, thank him. I will. And I will pray for the safety of the men and who protect and serve us so well.

I’m writing this in the wake of the tragic death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Like most of America, I was gutted by the release of the body cam and video footage of the vicious assault that took his life.

Like every profession, there are good officers and bad officers. I believe the vast majority of officers are good people trying to do a hard job. Let’s hope that out of this tremendous loss we can find a better way forward together.


In Memory of Peter Blum

Philanthropist, business leader and former Manalapan Mayor Peter Blum passed away Jan. 23.

Mr. Blum was a wonderful man who touched many lives through his long life of giving and achievement.

His name adorns the Boynton Beach YMCA and countless charities thrived thanks to his generosity and vision.

I was personally touched by his big heart when I had a serious case of Covid in 2020 and Mr. Blum and his lovely wife Mary shook the trees to help me get convalescent plasma, which was not yet approved but allowed for compassionate use.

Many others searched for and donated plasma as well. I am grateful to them all.

I was in ICU and heading downhill quickly when I received two doses of plasma. The treatment turned the tide and I believe saved my life.

I wrote to Peter and Mary Blum when I got out of the hospital thanking them for their efforts. I received a lovely note in return.

Because of the pandemic, I never had a chance to see the Blum’s in person.

But I am forever thankful.

Here’s a link to his obituary. What a wonderful man.








  1. Kelli Freeman says

    Thanks for writing your comments about Gary. You are so right when you say the community loves him! Gary has done so much for Delray Beach and our residents. He’s not only a Police Officer, he’s a true friend. I love seeing Gary around town and at events and always tell him how much I appreciate what he does for Delray Beach. Gary is a good man!

  2. Scott Porten says


    Gary is wonderful guy and part of the fabric that makes Delray a great place to live. Thanks for sharing the sentiments of so many of us.


  3. Gary is the sweetest soul! Always a kind word & with his infectious smile, one of the people that truly makes Delray special.


  4. Jeff – thanks for the insight into the profile of a fine Police Officer and a great ambassador for the City of Delray Beach. Gary is a true “light” in a sea of darkness that brings a ton of professionalism to the table when leadership is needed. The City is blessed to have him!

    In the case of the inexcusable events in Memphis these last days, unfortunately, the actions of a few will tarnish the reputation of many – for years to come. We must not paint all with the same brush, because we absolutely depend on organizations such as our local police and fire-rescue departments to respond to our needs every day and bring order to our lives. This catastrophic failure of the public trust is not a true reflection on the dedication of these men and women. Accountability is surely needed, and it must be swift and undeterred. And so, must our continued support for those who give their best in service on our behalf in this broken world.

  5. Stephen Greene says

    I met Gary several years ago and consider him a friend. I truly admire his commitment not only to his job but to the community at large. He always greets with a smile and an extended hand. He is such a pleasure to know.

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