This week, members of the Lee County Sheriff's Office V.O.I.C.E. (Volunteer Observers Impacting Community Effort) program presented Sheriff Mike Scott with a record "check" for nearly $1.2 million.
The "check" signifies the amount of money the Lee County Sheriff's Office saved taxpayers by using volunteers instead of paid personnel to do a wide variety of jobs including traffic control, business and neighborhood patrols, neighborhood canvassing, picking up found property, tagging abandoned vehicles as well as many clerical and operational support duties.
The nearly $1.2 million in savings was realized thanks to V.O.I.C.E. members that volunteered more than 54,000 hours of time last year.
V.O.I.C.E. members Ed Shumate and Dominic Pittro were named Volunteers of the Year, and Dennis Hanny was recognized as the new record holder in number of hours volunteered with more than 3,100 in 2011.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott calls the work of V.O.I.C.E. members vital and unheralded.
"These are special people with an admirable work ethic," he said. "They offer a diverse array of life experiences and an unselfish commitment to their community."
The V.O.I.C.E. program was recognized for their dedication and efforts in 2011 at a
volunteer appreciation luncheon at Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers on Monday, April 16. The event coincides with Volunteer Appreciation Week and provides the Sheriff's Office with the opportunity to honor and thank its volunteers for the hard work they have done and the time they have sacrificed.
The Sheriff's Office V.O.I.C.E. Unit is 165 members strong and is an integral part of the agency. Since 1988, the program has evolved from neighborhood patrol to a very diverse array of non-confrontational duties that allow deputies to focus on more urgent life-safety and security matters.
For those interested in joining V.O.I.C.E., applicants must be 18 years of age and graduated high school or obtained a G.E.D. Candidates should possess a valid driver's license, be in good health and have no criminal record. Those with military experience must have been honorably discharged. Upon acceptance, applicants will undergo academy and field training to prepare them for their new duties. Members are asked to donate a minimum of 16 hours per month. For more information call 477-1422.