Public Information Officer
With tax and budget cuts looming large, governments at all levels are looking for ways to stretch resources and do more with less. And as payrolls are downsized, the role of volunteers becomes even more important in taking on tasks that help provide essential services to the public. This week, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office took time out to thank its volunteer staff for its generous donation of time and talent. More than 250 strong, the volunteer corps donated 73,000 hours of labor to the community last year. Some public services would simply be unaffordable without the help of volunteers, Sheriff Ben Johnson said earlier this week during the agency’s 12th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. “I’m very excited to have men and women like you in the audience who do so much for the citizens of Volusia County,” Sheriff Johnson told the group. “As the times get harder, we’re going to have to rely on you more and more.”
Sheriff Johnson delivered his remarks Wednesday night at the Ocean Center, where approximately 255 people turned out to honor volunteers who serve throughout the Sheriff’s Office. The audience included volunteers along with Sheriff Johnson’s top brass and dignitaries such as County Council members Frank Bruno, Joie Alexander and Pat Northey who all turned out to show their gratitude to the volunteers. “I really do appreciate you,” added Bob Sullivan, the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Projects Coordinator who oversees the department’s volunteer programs. “We couldn’t do it without you.”
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 and citizen observers on neighborhood patrols. 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. Among those honored Wednesday was the Sheriff’s Office’s top volunteer for 2007, Cathy-Ann Tarlentino. Tarlentino has volunteered with the Sheriff’s Office for nine years and has had a huge role in the success of the Sheriff’s Office’s annual 100 Deputies/100 Kids holiday party for underprivileged children. Sheriff Johnson also honored Rev. Carl Brinkley, who helped start up the Sheriff’s Office’s chaplaincy program in 2000. Rev. Brinkley’s roots with the department go all the way back to 1953, when he became the Sheriff’s Office’s first fulltime African-American deputy. Sheriff Johnson bestowed upon Rev. Brinkley the honorary title of Chief Deputy and presented him with a plaque, which read: “In grateful recognition and appreciation of your outstanding dedication and service and support of the mission of the Sheriff’s Office and your decades of unique public service to the citizens of Volusia County.” Brinkley stepped down from his position with the Sheriff’s Office on March 31.
Six 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 Robert Auer, Michael Burda, William Higham, Steven Leitz, Alvin Roby and Janet Travers. Wednesday’s event also included a special remembrance for Robert Anderson, James Deem, William Friedrich, Lester Poppe, Keith Roth and Helen Tucker, all former Sheriff’s Office volunteers who passed away since last year’s banquet.
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