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Sheriff's Office Honors 215 Volunteers At Annual Banquet

Date Added: April 17, 2014 1:00 pm

Gary Davidson
Public Information Office

Whether out on patrol or manning the radio, Linda Killenbec has been helping to the keep the Volusia County community safe from crime for an astonishing 25 years. 

What makes it so astonishing is that Killenbec isn’t a law enforcement officer and she hasn’t been paid a thing for her service to the community -- a whopping 7,033 hours over the past quarter-century. Killenbec is a volunteer citizen observer for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. And she has the distinction of being the sole remaining charter member of the Sheriff’s Office’s award-winning Citizen Observer Program (C.O.P.), there from the very beginning since its launch in 1989. Wednesday night, Killenbec was among a large group of volunteers who were the guests at a banquet in their honor. An annual event now in its 18thyear, the banquet is an opportunity each year for the Sheriff’s Office to thank its many volunteers -- approximately 215 of them -- for giving of their time, their talents, and most importantly, for giving of themselves in service to the community.

“We just couldn’t do everything that we do for the citizens of this great county if it wasn’t for you,” Sheriff Ben Johnson told the volunteers gathered at the gala event which took place at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores. “What a great job you do for all of us and the citizens of Volusia County. For that, I commend each and every one of you and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The C.O.P.s are just one component of the Sheriff’s Office’s volunteer program. They patrol within the Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction, deterring crime, acting as an extra set of eyes and ears and reporting suspicious activity to deputies. Their duties run the gamut from routine patrols, watching over the homes of vacationing residents and working community events to traffic control, enforcement of handicapped parking rules and fingerprinting children for their parents’ records. Other volunteers serve at various offices and units throughout the Sheriff’s Office, working as everything from victim advocates, courthouse assistants and chaplains helping with death notifications to office jobs in areas such as training, evidence, records, fleet management, public information and civil. All combined, Sheriff’s Office volunteers donated 59,918 hours of labor in the past year. Put in terms of dollars and cents, last year’s volunteer services have an estimated value of $1.3 million. “It’s just astounding. When we need your help, you’re always there,” Sheriff Johnson said to the approximately 215 people who attended the banquet.

Killenbec was recognized for being the very first Sheriff’s Office volunteer to reach 25 years of service. But she wasn’t the only one to be singled out. Many others were presented with awards Wednesday night, mostly based on their number of years or hours of service. The group included two other volunteers -- Donna Heyburn and Dwight Wendt -- who’ve exceeded 7,000 hours of service. Three other volunteers -- Frank Krizon, Genevieve Mero and John O’Brien -- were recognized as recipients of the President’s Call to Service Award. The award is designed to honor Americans who, through 4,000 or more hours of volunteerism, set an example that inspires others to volunteer service. The evening also included a special remembrance for five former Sheriff’s Office volunteers who passed away since last year’s banquet.

Another one to be singled out for recognition was C.O.P. volunteer Bill Higham, who last year while on patrol saved a paraplegic from a burning van. After the life-saving rescue, Sheriff Johnson had awarded Higham the Sheriff’s Office’s medal of merit. “If you think that this job can’t make a difference by volunteering, this is a man who did just that,” said Lieutenant Tim Johnson, who oversees the Sheriff’s Office’s volunteer programs.

The evening also included a special recognition for Bob Sullivan, who coordinated the Sheriff’s Office’s volunteer programs for nearly 13 years until his retirement in July 2013. Sheriff Johnson presented Sullivan with a plaque, which read: “In grateful recognition of your spirited and significant support of the volunteer programs from January 2001 to July 2013. Their success is a direct result of your excellent leadership and dedication.

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