Public Information Officer
At $15 per-hour, the public safety services they provided just last year alone would have been worth nearly $1 million. But they don’t do it for pay, for glory or for recognition. The 260 citizens who volunteer with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office donate their time and service out of a civic-minded desire to give something back to their community. And Wednesday, it was the Sheriff’s Office’s time to give thanks in gala fashion, during the agency’s 11th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. “Every one of you performs a very valuable function,” Sheriff Ben Johnson told the large group of volunteers who gathered at the Ocean Center for the celebration. “I want to thank you for the things you do for the citizens of Volusia County. You’re the best because you’re the ones who give of your time.”
Wednesday’s banquet attracted about 340 people, which included County Council Chair Frank Bruno as well as a large contingent of Sheriff Johnson’s top brass who turned out to show their gratitude to the volunteers. The Sheriff’s Office has been utilizing local citizens throughout the agency since 1989 in volunteer positions ranging from receptionists, clerks and mail couriers to chaplains, jury assistants, victim advocates and citizen observers on neighborhood patrols. Just last year, the approximately 260 volunteers donated more than 66,000 hours of labor to the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Volusia County. As part of Wednesday’s banquet, dozens of volunteers were singled out for awards, mostly based on their number of years or hours of service. “It means so much to all of us,” Sheriff Johnson said. “I can’t think of a finer group of volunteers in this country to be associated with.”
Among those honored Wednesday was the Sheriff’s Office’s top volunteer for 2006, Sheila Horne. Horne volunteers with the Sheriff’s Office’s award-winning Citizen Observer Program (C.O.P.), which provides volunteer patrols around the county acting as extra sets of eyes and ears for law enforcement in order to help deter crime. Horne helps coordinate C.O.P. activities in Southeast Volusia and also helped establish a C.O.P. honor guard. As part of her C.O.P. activities, Horne recently provided traffic control during brushfires in New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater. “Congratulations Sheila,” said Bob Sullivan, the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Projects Coordinator who oversees the department’s volunteer programs. “We really appreciate what you do.”
In between thanking the volunteers, Sheriff Johnson did a little politicking, warning the gathering about tax reform talk coming out of Tallahassee and the negative impact it could have on local governments’ ability to fund essential services such as public safety. “I guarantee you one thing,” Sheriff Johnson joked to the group of unpaid volunteers. “I’m not going to cut your salaries.”
Four volunteers were presented with the President’s Call to Service Award Wednesday night, which is designed to honor Americans who set an example that inspires others to volunteer service. The recipients were Frank Adams, Henry Martin, George Mycock and William Smith. Wednesday’s event also included a special remembrance for Marie Anderson, John Bream, Robert Harbin, Miguel Vasquez and Robert Zevon, former volunteers who passed away since last year’s banquet.
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151