Retired Chaplain Fred Wilson (left) is honored by Scotts Valley Police Chief Steve Walpole for his volunteer work with the police department. (Contributed)

‘Tis the season. Well, not really that one. The holiday season comes a bit later this year. But if you look around, you’ll notice this spring that organizations and people all throughout the county are being honored and celebrated for their volunteer work. The list and variety and scope are impressive. Amazing in fact.

My parents were volunteers during World War II. My mom was English, and after the blitz she signed up for the Land Army, doing much of the farming and field work to replace the men who were off to war. My father lied about his age and at 15-1/2 enlisted into the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot. He was too young to fly in the Battle of Britain, but later flew over 80 sorties in Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes. Winston Churchill later made the notable quotation about those men: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” I feel the same way about those who selflessly serve our communities.

The City of Scotts Valley is not a volunteer organization, although a quick survey of the various departments, it would seem that they routinely do more with less than you can possibly imagine. Our public works, with a maintenance staff of about three, services our fields, roads, buildings and more. Finance has about two people. Planning has the same and just completed our Housing Element, an amazing accomplishment, and submitted it to the state, where it was certified. Our police department responds to over 12,000 calls for service each year and does so often with a shortage of personnel.

I think what prompted me to reflect on those who step forward and serve was the Annual Recognition dinner that our police department does for its reserves and volunteers. Honored were those of all ages that help with traffic control, emergencies, special events, dispatch, weapons cleaning and more. Perhaps the most poignant presentation was to retired Chaplain Fred Wilson, who provides comfort and support, even to those officers who have to deliver the news with a door-knock that none of us ever want to hear.

But it, of course, does not end there. If you take a minute to survey the Volunteer Center and its “Be the Difference Awards,” you will get a sense of the scope of how much behind-the-scenes work goes into rounding out our communities. (Who knew there was an Equine Healing Collaborative?)

Just in Scotts Valley, Councilmember Donna Lind leads the effort for the “Fallen Officer” event each year; Vice-Mayor Derek Timm led the Educational Foundation for many years; Jack Dilles is a member of one of the many service clubs that do so much for our community; I was honored to coach over 20 different basketball and baseball teams; and virtually everyone I know has donated their efforts in the same way. Our own Chamber is going to celebrate the contributions of businesses and individuals this month, who have gone above and beyond.   

Throw in all the silent auctions, fundraising golf tournaments, sip-and-shops, book sales, bingo cards, crowd funding and bake sales and you get an idea of how, collectively, volunteers are very much the altruistic glue that holds communities together. It just never stops, and for that we are eternally in their debt. Thank you.

Randy Johnson is mayor of the City of Scotts Valley. To reach Johnson, email [email protected] or call 831-438-0633.

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Randy Johnson is mayor of the City of Scotts Valley. To reach Johnson, email [email protected] or call 831-438-0633.


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