Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have always been there when their community needs them the most.
Here are stories of public employees in service to their communities.
WFISD PALS Program is back in action by Ebonee Coleman. The COVID-19 pandemic meant many volunteer programs in schools were put on hold. Now that children are back in the classroom, they can do some good in their communities with the help of their teachers. The Wichita Falls Independent School District in Texas has restarted its Peer Assistance Leadership Program (PALS). PALS allows students to collect 15 hours of community and college credit through volunteering with nonprofits in their community and reading to elementary school students. Debbie Pepper, an ESL teacher at Wichita Falls High School, said, “If you donate items, you get two hours. If you share several times on social media and try to get other people to donate, I’ll give you an hour for that. If you come and help decorate boxes that we put out in classrooms for donations, I’ll give you some hours for that as well.” The program will continue into the winter when staff and students make Christmas ornaments at the Kell House Museum’s Santa House event.
Project HOPE connects those seeking recovery with resources by BDN Community. Since September 2016, the Ellsworth Police Department in Maine has partnered with Healthy Acadia to support Project HOPE (Heroine-Opiate Prevention Effort). Project Hope partners, including police officers, work to place participants with appropriate treatment programs and a volunteer “Angel” who supports individuals with opiate addiction. Ellsworth Police Chief Glenn Moshier is passionate about the project and is working to boost awareness of Project HOPE. “I just wish more folks would take advantage of all we can offer,” Moshier said. If you or a family member is struggling with opiate addiction and are looking for help, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
Meet Santa Cecil, a Santa Claus for hire offering variety of Santa services by Glen Starkey. A retired reading teacher from California has found his passion being Santa Claus. Santa Cecil, a former school custodian who went back to college to get his teaching certificate, a 30-year youth baseball umpire, and a championship powerlifter in his spare time, decided it was time for a new career by going to Santa School in Atlanta, Georgia. “[Becoming Santa] seemed like something that would really fit me—someone who’s been in education for so long, who’s worked in the community for so long, and my wife, Laurie, and I started looking at these Santa schools, and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go to Santa school.'” Although Santa Cecil gets paid for his services, he does quite a bit of volunteering as well. This past weekend, he was Santa in the Grover Beach Holiday Parade, and he made an appearance at Grover Beach Library.
Be sure to check back the week after next for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!