NAVAJO COUNTY — Many businesses and residents in the White Mountains give a lot of themselves in time and money. But there’s one group of volunteers — to quote Navajo County Sheriff KC Clark — that “just gives and gives and gives.”
The Navajo County Sheriff Auxiliary saves taxpayers thousands of dollars each year. For fiscal year 2016 they have contributed 13,676 hours. That equates to $265,861.44 using the pay rate of a Deputy I position.
Their efforts free up sheriff deputies to perform more important duties when manpower is needed for jobs that are less demanding. Some of the jobs include watching houses for residents on vacation, parade duty, community event crowd support, traffic control, parking lot attendants and support at the Sheriff’s Office. The auxiliary is in desperate need of volunteers for all of there units.
“This group has been in existence for over 25 years. They are invaluable to our department,” Clark said. “I am extremely proud of our (Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers.) They are really something to behold and observe. When I thank these volunteers, it is really not enough.”
As a 501C3 organization, the auxiliary is a not-for-profit group.
“Every penny we make we get from donations, whether it’s from watching houses for folks on vacation, doing traffic control at events like the Hangar Dance in Show Low or just people giving us money. We are funded by those means. We do get to use Navajo County Sheriff Department vehicles. The rest is on us,” Clark explained.
Don Fry, a summer volunteer, shared his experience as an auxiliary volunteer. “It’s a rich experience. I like being able to help others and support the law enforcement community. Anyone who has the time will be blessed by the opportunity to help others,” Fry said.
This volunteer opportunity is open to a wide variety of people.
“Volunteers can be confined to a wheelchair and we would love to have them help.” Clark added. “We have a female volunteer that has been coming into our office in Holbrook every Tuesday, donating eight hours each time for more than 10 years. She does clerical work cleaning up old records and does other things that are a huge help.”
Volunteers with different backgrounds can also be of value to the department, the sheriff noted. “We have volunteers who are rocket scientists, teachers and government employees. Their experience has helped us in streamlining some processes as they apply their experiences to volunteer work.”
One area where Clark has seen an impact are the SAV patrols in Heber-Overgaard. “The reduction in burglaries has been significant. Those patrols watching houses and being visible in that area have helped residents feel safe about leaving for the winter,” he added.
“A lot of the contributions the SAV makes go unnoticed. They provide turkey dinners at Thanksgiving to residents who may not eat otherwise. They use SAV funds to buy toys and Christmas presents for underprivileged kids. Like I said, they give so much and help our department perform duties that may be neglected if not for the SAV.”
The auxiliary has volunteers that also help the Search and Rescue Team. “The people in Navajo County are some of the most giving people on earth. They inspire me to give back to the community when my days of service are over,” Clark said.
The criteria for becoming a volunteer doesn’t require much. Volunteers must be fingerprinted and pass a background check, attend a 60-hour academy and commit to a minimum of eight hours a month in service.
If interested in becoming a volunteer or donating funds, contact Fry at 520-404-4670.