Toledo OH Oct 30 2016 Toledoans Theresa Conley and Dorothy Hayes together walked, bicycled, and cruised the city streets as police patrol partners for about 15 years before retiring from the force — the former in 2016 and the latter in 2014.
On Friday they were together again — this time as part of a six-member graduating class of the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol, which trains senior citizens to visit elderly or disabled residents, and to check on homes when the resident is away for an extended time. The group is a partnership between the Toledo Police Department and the Area Office of Aging Northwest Ohio.
“My pet peeve is [people who target] the elderly and babies,” Ms. Conley, 64, said, adding that she wanted to continue to protect them in retirement. “Don’t hurt them. I will call the police. That’s my thing. I don’t like people to harm the elderly or little infants, because they are defenseless.”
Ms. Hayes, 63, said their volunteering will be the “continuation of our community service,” adding that working with the elderly should be rewarding and it was Ms. Conley who had persuaded her to join in.
The volunteer patrol graduating class was joined at the ceremony by nine members of the new Sylvania Township Senior Volunteer Program, which is a partnership between the office of aging and Sylvania Township police. The 20-minute event was held at the office of aging building at 2155 Arlington Ave. in South Toledo.
The Sylvania Township senior volunteer program was modeled after the senior volunteer patrol, which involves regular informal visits by volunteers to older residents, with volunteers notifying police if their help is needed, according to Ray Carroll, the Sylvania Township’s deputy police chief, who spearheaded the township’s effort to join the program.
“I am a senior and I want to really help other seniors,” said Jackie Black of Sylvania Township, who refused to give hear age, adding that she retired in 2014 as a Kohl’s sales associate.
“And I want to tell them about all the good things that are available to us, such as the food program, the visiting program, and the seniors centers,” she said.
Volunteers have to be 55 or older, have a valid driver’s license, high school diploma, or a GED, and be willing to put in at least 12 hours a month, according to event organizers. All applicants were required to undergo a background check.
The graduates completed a weeklong training course. Topics included abuse, scams, and first aid.
Volunteers work a flexible schedule of three four-hour shifts per month.
Since its inception in 2000, the volunteer patrol has grown to 62 active members, including the six who graduated Friday, said Sally Davies, director of the Area Office of Aging of Northwest Ohio. That number does not include the nine Sylvania Township’s patrol volunteers.
“The need for [the patrol] is growing because people are living longer,” Ms. Hayes said. “They are outliving their family members. They are outliving their friends. And I think they will need us.”