Swarms of applications crossed her desk for the Volunteers in Police Services program, which assists the police force in non-violent situations.
The volunteers write tickets for those who illegally park in handicapped spaces, handle traffic control, keep people away from the scene during crime investigations, give guided tours of the department to residents and help out around the office, among many other tasks.
According to Kelley, in 2010 the volunteers saved the city’s thinning blue line 4,852 hours – at a savings to the city of $113,000. The department will conduct an orientation for volunteer s on March 29 at 4 p.m. in the police station’s community room.
“They’re making good positive change for the police department,” Kelley said. “When someone’s willing to donate the time to help us out, it just helps the whole city out. It’s like we come together, and I think it just epitomizes the spirit of what community policing is about.”
The people who can influence change from the city at the top are taking notice.
City officials feel that this bootstraps spirit is coming at just the right time. At a recent City Council meeting, city leaders made a push for residents to get out and help, especially in light of budget cuts that have stretched nearly every department thin.
“The fact that these opportunities already exist is evidence and proof of the commitment that Antioch residents have to volunteer in this community,” City Manager Jim Jakel said. “These programs exist in their current state largely out of the generosity of people with their time, and in some cases, their money. As additional volunteers become available, we need to place those people.”
In the staff report from that meeting, compiled by Jakel and City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland, the city outlined a handful of organizations where Antioch residents can lend a hand. Volunteerism will also be a major topic at the city’s Quality of Life forum on Saturday, Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon at Deer Valley High School.
The staff report stresses that the city is not trying to get volunteers to replace vacant paid positions, but rather to free up workers to focus on the core aspects of their jobs.
Sitting near the back of council chambers for the City Council meeting were members of the community activist group Take Back Antioch (TBA), who have given the volunteer spirit of the city a major shot in the arm.
After Brittney Gougeon started a page on Facebook asking for residents to take back the city from crime and blight, more than 1,800 residents joined the cause, participating not only online, but in person as well.
Earlier this month, TBA gathered for its first Quality of Community forum, which packed the community room at the police department. At that meeting, a handful of residents signed up for the police’s volunteer program and Graffiti Abatement Program. TBA does what it can to connect people with organizations that need a few extra hands.
“People are contacting me for applications or they’ve had trouble reaching someone at the police station because they have limited hours,” Gougeon said. “It seems like I’ve kind of been the go-between in making those connections, which is really, really good.”
Many of the residents who attended that TBA forum went to the revitalized Saturday cleanup the next day, picking up trash at Meadow Creek Park. Antioch resident Alan Bayson, on his 49th birthday, surprised his family, who thought he was taking them out to breakfast, by contributing to the volunteer effort at the cleanup.
“I’ve always been reading the police bulletins and it happened to fall on my birthday, so I was excited to surprise my family and not tell them till the very last minute what we were going to do,” said Bayson, a five-year resident of Antioch. “They enjoyed it; they had a good time.”
One of the residents who helped bring the first Saturday clean up back from the budget cutting board, Dennis Jeglum, also heads up the Graffiti Abatement Program (GAP). Jeglum, a retired officer, drives through Antioch cleaning up the tagging, but his help is dwindling.
Jeglum said that last year, 13 people went through the four-hour GAP seminar, but there are only three volunteers today, not counting him and City Councilman Gary Agopian. The program runs entirely on donations.
“When we see graffiti, we stop and paint it up immediately,” Jeglum said. “By getting more volunteers, our goal is to put that truck out eight hours a day, four days a week.”
Thanks to the recent surge in volunteerism, more than 10 people have signed up for this year’s orientation, to be held Monday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers. People can also sign up to participate in GAP through the city’s website.
Jeglum is also manning Keep Antioch Beautiful day, a citywide cleanup scheduled for April 23.
Volunteering in Antioch
The community of Antioch has recently enjoyed a groundswell of support from residents who wish to contribute to their community. In response, city officials have provided this list of organizations that offer volunteer opportunities locally.
City boards, commissions and ad-hoc committees Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/boardscommissions.htm.
Volunteers in Police Service (ViPS) Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/vips_program.htm, call Lt. Robin Kelley at 925-779-6878 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graffiti Abatement Program (GAP) E-mail Dennis Jeglum at email@example.com.
Neighborhood Watch Program Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/police/neighborhood_watch.htm.
Animal Services Volunteers Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/police/antiochanimalsvcs.
Neighborhood Clean-up Program Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/police/community-events.htm.
California Coastal Cleanup Day Visit www.art4antioch.org.
Keep Antioch Beautiful Visit www.art4antioch.org.
Antioch Senior Center Call Brenda Perry at 925-778-1158 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Intervention Network (YIN) Visit www.emeraldconsulting.com/theyininitiative.html.
Antioch Unified School District Visit www.antioch.k12.ca.us or call 925-706-4100.
Volunteer coaches Call 925-776-3050.
Police Activities League (PAL) Call 925-779-6875 or visit www.antiochpal.com.
Police Chaplaincy Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/police/chaplaincy_program, call Lt. Robin Kelley at 925-779-6878 or e-mail email@example.com.
Police Explorer Program Visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us/citygov/police/explorerprogram.htm.