Two public-safety leaders — the chief of police of Cypress and Anaheim’s fire chief — delivered this message to the youth of Orange County while accepting awards Friday, Nov. 7, for their support of the local Exploring program.
And what better way to help achieve your dreams, they said, then by becoming a police or fire explorer?
The Explorer program builds character, trust and integrity, said Jackie Gomez-Whiteley, Chief of Police of Cypress, and Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman.
Gomez-Whiteley and Bruegman, along with legendary O.C. broadcast journalist and community leader Ed Arnold, received a William H. Spurgeon III Award from Learning for Life/Exploring of Orange County.
The Spurgeon Award, now in its 25th year, recognizes people and organizations for contributing significant leadership to the Exploring program in Orange County.
In more than five decades, more than 150,000 young men and women have gone through Exploring programs in more than 70 “posts” throughout the county.
Gomez-Whiteley began her career in law enforcement in 1978 as an explorer for the Los Alamitos Police Department.
Now, along with Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, she’s the top female cop in Orange County.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for the Police Explorer program,” Gomez-Whiteley said in videotaped comments before she accepted her Spurgeon Award at the luncheon at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center at Irvine Regional Park in Orange.
Bruegman, who began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Nebraska, told the crowd that the Explorer program is critical in developing the character of youth, and he urged the public to invest in it.
“This is paying it forward to America,” Bruegman said.
For more information on the Orange County Explorer program, visit www.ocexploring.org
Also recognized at Friday’s event were:
Greg Henessey (Orange County Fire Authority), 2014 Advisor of the Year (in memoriam)
Battalion Chief Terry Scortt (OCFA), director of the O.C. Fire Explorers Program
Firefighter Mickey Hansen (OCFA), for support of the Fire Academy
Lenora Pena Sanchez (Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.), 2014 Advisor of the Year
Anthony Antohe (OCFA, Station 34, Post 9634), 2014 Young American Award
Kenny Kressin (Aviation Explorer, Post 445), 2014 Young American Award
Melissa Vega (OCSD, Post 449), 2014 Young American Award
Shane Ryan (Anaheim PD Explorer, Post 249), 2014 Young American Award
Michael Abdalla (Orange Rotary), Cliff Dochterman Award
Gary Hickman (Fountain Valley Rotary), Cliff Dochterman Award