The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office’s volunteer efforts stretch through every part of our organization and touch many areas of the community. Capt. Rick Norris commands the Community Outreach Division, including the Recruitment Team, Honor Guard and Auxiliary Program.
During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, even with some programs being suspended due to COVID-19, the Sheriff’s Office logged a total of 313,898 hours with help from 735 volunteers (an average of 49 at any given time), including chaplains, auxiliary deputies, interns and inmates giving their time for the Workforce and Trusty programs. This equated to $8.5 million in savings to Virginia Beach taxpayers. Auxiliary deputies supplement VBSO operations and participate in community events, including providing free child I.D. cards. They must maintain proficiency in firearms, defensive tactics, first aid and other skills.
Sheriff Stolle and the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office are ardent supporters of Special Olympics Virginia. VBSO deputies and civilians volunteer their time for various Special Olympics events throughout the year, including the Fall Championships opening ceremonies, Dancing with the Athletes competition, Polar Plunge, Tip-a-Cop and Cover a Cruiser events. Altogether, $48,231 was raised by the region to support 25,000 athletes this year.
The Sheriff’s Office holds quarterly blood drives to benefit the American Red Cross (collecting 137 units of blood this year), raises money for charity through the Sheriff Community Fund, supports Virginia Beach Crime Solvers, participates in the United Way Day of Caring, supports the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, and participates in the Cops & Kids event, which takes underprivileged children to buy Christmas presents. The office is also actively involved in Law Enforcement United and its annual Road to Hope, a 250-mile bicycle ride to Washington to honor fallen officers and raise money for their families and related charities. The ride was canceled this year.
The VBSO is active in schools, with volunteers helping on the first day and giving their time at school events. However, many of those events were canceled this year due to schools closing in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19.
The VBSO also provided volunteers for National Night Out, the Red, White and Blue Youth Fishing Experience and the inaugural Camp 911, a weeklong public safety careers camp for middle school students.
The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Coordinator is involved in numerous VBSO volunteer events, with his primary focus being providing child I.D.s and safety initiatives for senior citizens. The Community Outreach Coordinator Gary Zalas sits on the executive boards of both SALT (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together) and Virginia Beach TRIAD, which seek to arm senior citizens with the information they need to protect themselves and avoid becoming victims of crime. In addition, Mr. Zalas is on the Strategic Action Committee for Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia and serves as vice chair on the organization’s Advisory Council. He is a liaison to the Mayor’s Commission on Aging, and assists with the annual Seniors Showcase attended by 350 seniors.
In FY20, Community Outreach Coordinator Zalas:
- Received the prestigious President’s Award from Senior Services of Southern Virginia at its annual meeting;
- Installed 24 door viewers (peepholes) and provided home safety assessments for seniors under Operation Lookout Expanded;
- Provided three displays and 11 presentations reaching 690 seniors on topics including senior safety, fraud and scams, holiday safety, bullying and more, including a presentation on senior bullying for the Attorney General of Virginia’s annual TRIAD conference in Williamsburg;
- Delivered 76 5-pound boxes of nonperishable food to seniors for Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia and conducted regular health and welfare checks on the recipients;
Assisted Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia with stuffing envelopes with items for shut-in seniors to provide activities for them;
- Conducted one Senior Citizens Police Academy consisting of 10 three-hour sessions, graduating 26 seniors;
- Made 36 visits to various Project Lifesaver clients to change transmitter batteries and check transmitter frequency to ensure a strong signal;
- Signed up four new Project Lifesaver clients;
- Helped with Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia’s Art of Health Aging Event with 300+ seniors attending;
- Hosted a Shred Day for seniors at Marian Manor, shredding more than 4,000 pounds of material and collecting $370 in donations and 1,200 pounds of food for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore;
- Taught CPR and standard first aid during indoctrination for new hires and deputies requiring recertification; and
- Provided regular “current events” presentations to the seniors at Marian Manor (when permitted due to COVID-19).
To contact Mr. Zalas about either program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about our Community Outreach or to request VBSO participation in a community event, send an email with details to Capt. Norris at email@example.com. Please keep in mind that we receive many requests and cannot staff all of them.