By Casey Edwards
After a lifetime of work, many seniors look forward to the relaxed lifestyle that retirement promises — but the men and women of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Senior Volunteer Program in Ramona aren’t ready to settle down just yet.
Bill Hicks, the senior volunteer administrator at the sheriff’s Ramona station since 1998, spoke from experience when he said that this volunteer program is “just like a job,” and that these volunteers are “another set of eyes and ears for the Sheriff’s Department and Highway Patrol.”
Started in early 1994, the program is run by volunteers age 50 and older who serve about 168,000 hours every year.
District 36 Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) recently recognized Hicks and Sam Telleson, awarding each a Senate Certificate of Recognition for completing over 7,000 volunteer hours as senior volunteers with the Ramona patrol. Anderson commended the members of the Ramona patrol for their “unyielding dedication to improving the safety of our community.”
From administrative work to patrolling neighborhoods to prevent crime, these volunteers help the Sheriff Department and California Highway Patrol by supporting their staff in these necessary roles.
Members must be U.S. citizens, have automobile and medical insurance, and be able to come in at least one day a week.
Additional requirements include strong moral character and physical and emotional strength. Although the gruesome traffic accidents and home robberies are left for the department to handle, the senior volunteers are present at the scene, making sure that cameramen, reporters and others don’t get in the way of the detectives and officers.
Hicks is particularly excited about the new Graffiti Tracker duties of the volunteers. Each patrol car is equipped with a recording camera to take pictures of graffiti vandalism around San Diego, and these pictures are forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department to help track different people who deface city buildings. Members of the community seeing this kind of vandalism can call the senior volunteers, who document the damages.
The senior volunteers also have a program called Y.A.N.A. (You Are Not Alone), where volunteers call homebound or disabled residents every day six days a week, to make sure that they are doing all right and to offer a friendly voice. This program is a way for volunteers who are passionate about community safety and protection, yet aren’t able to be out in the field, to serve.
Another program that the volunteers have taken over for the Sheriff’s Department is the Home Vacation Checks, where members go into the community and check on the homes of families who are away for an extended period of time. This creates a communal sense of stability and protection, and families can be confident when they leave that their home and personal belongings are safe.
Twenty-three members of the sheriff’s senior volunteer program in Ramona were presented with Senate Certificates of Recognition for their service. Their hours and names are:
•7,000 hours—Sam Telleson, Bill Hicks.
•4,000 hours—Don Sweet, Walter Huff, Charles Kelley, John Leap, Bill Lawler, Gerrie Griffin.
•3,000 hours—Les Hart, Ken Korhonen, Jim Turnbull, Paul Garcia.
•2,000 hours—Emily Macon, Martha Henry, Frank Tushoph, Frank Flechsig, Roger Gordon.
•1,000 hours—Mike Del Selva, Alicia Lamb, Corkey Gilmore, Dick Bradshaw, Dick Wygant, Annabelle Andrews.
Casey Edwards, an aspiring journalist, is an intern in Sen. Joel Anderson’s East County office.