More than 20 seniors went back to school this week as pioneers for the Oakhurst Senior Volunteer Program, joining the ranks as its first class.
Public information officer Kaci Lutz, who organized the program, welcomed the 22 seniors - all older than 55 - to their first day Monday morning.
“You guys are the focus, you are the heart and soul of this place,” Lutz said. “We’re all looking forward to working with you.”
Jim Condon, who worked 15 years as a construction manager and drove buses at Yosemite High School, said he was happy to join.
“We’ve lost a lot of kids out there to vehicular accidents,” said Condon, whose wife Sally is also in the class. “So I feel it’s important to step up and help do something about it.”
Volunteers, who underwent a background check and were interviewed before being selected out of 35 applicants, will graduate May 13 after two weeks of classes on everything from traffic control procedures to weapons orientations and a safe driving course.
Though the volunteers will not carry weaponry or have the authority to write tickets, Lutz said they will be invaluable as another set of eyes and ears on the road, or behind a desk.
“These people are coming in from all walks of life to donate their time and become part of our organization,” Lutz said. “In a small town community, that’s very important because we want to bring people in, we want to share what we do and what we’re about ... They are going to be a fantastic asset to our office and help us be even more efficient than before.”
Depending on where they’d feel best to serve, volunteers can do everything from working as a school crossing guard, file paperwork and answer phones in the office at Redbud Drive and Highway 49, or ride along with officers.
Among the volunteers were several experienced in public service, law enforcement military service, or all three.
Michael Vaughn, who spent 33 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and 11 as a Department of Justice instructor, said his goal as a volunteer was to help protect officers on the streets.
“This is an opportunity where I can go out and assist these officers by using my eyes and ears to help them, even in difficult situations,” Vaughn said. “It’s a great way for me to start getting involved with them, and get involved in making our area even better than it already is.”
Lutz, who added it’s “never too old to be blue and gold,” said more volunteer courses are planned for the fall.
Details: Kaci Lutz, (559) 658-6611, firstname.lastname@example.org.