The Orange Police Department’s You Are Not Alone (YANA) program provides free home visits to wheelchair-bound or bedridden residents. In 2017, YANA team members made 202 home visits.
In that same year, 1,047 checks were performed on homes and businesses where residents or business owners were on vacation – another free service.
These and many other services for the community and the agency are provided by a 60-member team of volunteers. This group of men and women are not only a strong presence at any community event, but are also working daily behind the scenes to assist with any needs that may present themselves at the agency.
“They’re the first face of our department that greets our public,” Orange PD Volunteer Coordinator Carmen Cardenas said. “We’re very blessed that we have a lot of people that are interested in volunteering.”
The volunteers assist with programs ranging from YANA and vacation checks to the Child DNA Program utilizing DNA kits, which started in 2015 as a way to identify children if they go missing. Volunteers help maintain the patrol car fleet, make patrol checks to help officers, help remove illegal signs from public city property, distribute crime prevention materials, and greet and help the community as information booth volunteers. The City of Amateur Radio Team is also volunteer based and helps with communications for certain events, emergency situations, and drills. Volunteers also provided assistance during the recent Canyon 2 fire.
Not only does the team have the numbers (many volunteers learn about the program through the Citizens’ Academy), but it has staying power.
Friedel Borges, a travel agent by trade, began volunteering with the Orange PD almost 20 years ago. Also a volunteer at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, volunteering is something she enjoys. In 1999, she saw an ad for volunteering at the Orange PD and thought she’d give it a try.
“It was completely new to me. The police language was foreign to me,” Borges said.
But she learned, and she’s since worked in every department at the agency.
“You name it, I’ve been there,” she said. “I help wherever help is needed.”
Suzanne Sanchez, who has also been an Orange PD volunteer for 20 years, started out working in crime prevention.
“I’ve been here ever since and will continue,” she said. “I admire the police … everything about the police organization.”
Keith Fawver, the current Volunteer of the Year, has been an Orange PD volunteer for 18 1/2 years. He retired in 1993 from Hormel Fine Foods and after 33 years in the same job at a desk, he likes the variety and work in the field his volunteering provides.
“I wanted to be outside,” Fawver said.
He’s also worked in many departments and has done vacation checks, graffiti checks, the Child DNA Program, and has assisted in patrol. He’ll even volunteer as an actor for the Orange PD Community Emergency Response Team’s practice drills. Recently, he also acted in an agency training video for handling calls involving the mentally ill.
“It’s a sense of being able to give back to an organization that we kind of take for granted,” Fawver said.