NEWFANE — It was February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Postal carrier Michelle Danner was on her regular route when she smelled the distinct odor of gas.
She knocked loudly on the door, but no one was home, so she went next door and informed the neighbors and they called National Fuel. All that time, there was a major gas leak in the works that could’ve destroyed the house and potentially taken lives.
Danner was a hero.
But, because of the dangers of COVID-19, she wasn’t officially commended until Tuesday, during a small ceremony at the Newfane Post Office.
Western New York Acting District Manager Gary Vaccarella was there to say a few words and present a plaque to Danner.
“When I hear the term ‘going postal,’ I think of employees like Michelle Danner whose alertness and caring may have saved lives,” Vaccarella said. “Michelle was alert enough to recognize there was a gas leak in a house and she notified the home owners and possibly saved lives.”
Vaccarella read from a letter written by the former postmaster general Megan Brennan.
“I am proud of the way you handled this situation, thank you for many services you provide,” he quoted. “Your efforts are a reminder of the ties that bind the communities and our country together.”
Danner received the plaque from Vaccarella and some praise from her own Postmaster Sue Mair.
“According to the gas company, it was a very substantial leak,” Mair said. “This was no tiny leak and they said that due to her efforts, she probably saved a lot of lives.”
“I’m a very simple person, this is crazy over the top for me," Danner said of the attention lavished on her. "I did what I felt was right, and I think we can all do that.”
“I feel like I did it because I hope someone would do the same for me,” she added. “I can’t imagine losing my house, my family, the people I love.”
Vaccarella noted that USPS does more than just bring the mail on time. He said the postal service has raised 1.7 billion pounds of food throughout the 26 years of its annual food drive, raised $90 million for breast cancer research and has 58,000 postal employees who are bone marrow donors on the Gift of Life Marrow Registry.
“We’re very proud of all our postal employees. We have very resilient postal employees that care about their communities, they care about their customers,” Vaccarella said. “Many of our employees are just as alert as Michelle is and do a great job. We’ve very proud of Michelle.”