Every day, children across the county make the trek to school. But consider this: if they walk to school, is the neighborhood they go through safe? If they ride a bike to class, do they have a helmet? If they do, is it properly secured? These are a few questions the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) strive to answer “yes” to on a daily basis.
To make this possible, a new partnership has been formed to strengthen safety efforts while increasing intergenerational activities. HHSA Aging and Independence Services’ (AIS) Retired Senior Volunteer Program Manager and Intergenerational Coordinators have teamed up with the Sheriff's Volunteer Services Coordinator who oversees more than 570 volunteers, including around 450 Senior Volunteer Patrol (SVP) members.
The Senior Volunteer Patrol supports Sheriff's Deputies in the field in many important ways, including conducting safety patrols, vacation checks and "You Are Not Alone" (YANA) checks on the elderly. SVP members also interact with the public and form strong community bonds. They are considered "the eyes and ears" on the street.
The Senior Volunteer Patrol is an essential part of the Sheriff's Department and helps make our communities safer for everyone.
“Our Senior volunteers are instrumental in our safety and education programs," explained Sergeant Rey Lyyjoki, who serves as the Sheriff's Volunteer Coordinator. "They enjoy making a difference and if they can leave a positive impression on children and young adults, it’s a win-win for everyone.”
In the past, County requests for Senior Volunteer Patrol services, such as assisting with "Walk to School Days” and Bike Rodeos, would be made directly to Sheriff's Stations and Substations. There was not a "go-to" person within the Sheriff's Department to send these requests to.
The goal of the new partnership between HHSA and the Sheriff's
Department is to streamline requests by going through the proper
channels, which will strengthen communications between agencies on a
larger scale. That will ultimately lead to more intergenerational
Recently, HHSA East Region Community Health Engagement Team partnered with Senior Volunteer Patrol members from the Santee Sheriff's Station to support Lakeview Elementary School’s Bike Rodeo in Lakeside (pictured above). More than 150 children participated in bike races, obstacle courses, and other fun activities for the entire family. SVP members and a Sheriff's Motor Unit Deputy spent time with the students by handing out free bike helmets and safety information. The day was full of positive, healthy and fun interactions between students, parents, seniors, uniformed personnel, school staff and volunteers working together to increase physical activity and safety.
“Working with Sergeant Lyyjoki makes the process of connecting senior volunteers with school and community organizers much simpler," said Susanne Boston, East and North Central Intergenerational Coordinator. "It keeps everyone on the same page and ultimately increases the intergenerational opportunities with students and older adults.”
Boston added that six schools in Santee are currently working with Circulate San Diego to schedule several Walk to School events in April.
“I contact Sergeant Lyyjoki who then connects with the Senior Volunteer Patrol at the appropriate Sheriff's Station or Substation," said Boston. "Before you know it, we have six SVP members ready to help with the event! These types of partnership truly strengthen community efforts.”
The Sheriff's Department is always looking for new Senior Volunteer Patrol members. Volunteers must be 50 years and older who want to serve their community through safety and service programs in fire, crime prevention and education. Duties include assisting with administrative work, patrolling neighborhoods, checking in on the elderly or disabled and supporting Sheriff's Deputies out in the field.
For more information on how to join the Senior Volunteer Patrol, contact the Sheriff's Volunteer Services Office at (858) 974-2335 or visit the website.
Pictured at right: Senior Volunteer Patrol members Marlene and Chuck Abel, Steve Moerscher, Cheryl Mason and a Motor Unit Deputy, Ed Frost, at the the Lakeview Elementary School Bike Rodeo on February 8, 2014.
Written by Susanne Boston, Intergenerational Coordinator, East and North Central Regions