RSVP volunteer Dan Vilotti sits in the patrol car with Lenore Flanders, NCO Volunteer Program Coordinator, and CHP Officer Olegario Marin, Public Information Officer and Senior Volunteer Coordinator. (Photo by Karen Rifkin)
The AmeriCorps NCO Senior Volunteer Program is looking for some good women and men (over the age of 50) to volunteer with the California Highway Patrol here at Ukiah.
CHP Officer Olegario Marin, Public Information Officer and Senior Volunteer Coordinator, explained that there are positions available in the office and in the field, various to include all.
Office duties may include: assisting the coordinator of school student transport safety; assist general support officers in front counter and court and evidence officers in related duties; processing foreign registration forms; Enter vehicle storage/seizure information; assist administrative support with data entry tasks and annual inventory; and assist automotive technicians.
Field assignments may include: towing and attaching the SPECTER trailer; work with the school safety patrol program as an adviser; respond to traffic complaints and about abandoned vehicles and local parking problems; provide traffic control under the supervision of officers; and providing assistance to uniformed members in public affairs functions.
Marin said volunteers need to be fully vetted to make sure there’s nothing in their background that would bar them from being around classified information.
Dan Vilotti, a retired captain in the US Navy and retired high school teacher, is currently their only RSVP volunteer.
“He was great,” said Marin. “We enjoy having him here. He was very helpful.”
Preparing to retire from teaching at St Mary’s in 2022, she is looking to move into a fulfilling volunteer position. His father retired from the CHP so he had connections and thought it might be interesting.
“We started the paperwork in June and it took a few weeks to start. There’s a lot of sensitive information in the file and you don’t just want anyone to get in; I appreciate and understand the high level of care and concern; I was in the Navy for 28 years,” he said.
Some of Vilotti’s volunteer duties included taking radar trailers to various locations, taking patrol vehicles to the shop for repairs, and driving vehicles with paperwork to and from the courthouse.
“Marin officers have given me the opportunity to do almost anything I want to do; it broadened my horizons,” he said.
He spent part of his time driving patrol cars and moving paperwork back and forth from the CHP offices to the courthouse. In order to drive a state vehicle, he must take a special driving test with two CHP officers in the vehicle observing his driving.
“I’m fine with that,” he said.
“The work I do frees up regular officers to be willing to work more closely aligned with their law enforcement duties; instead, I can shuffle paper, deploying speed trailers. I’m there to help make things smoother; I’m not a law enforcer.
He also helps with the Age Well Drive Smart class.
“He is a huge asset in this program. He is older, students can identify with him and he is a trained teacher who gives great lessons. When we left, I let him do his thing; he has basically taken over the program and I thank him for that,” said Marin.
Vilotti regularly volunteers about 8 hours a week but when it comes to public affairs events such as the National Night Out at Fort Bragg or for PGE training or driving the Trucker’s Parade, he will rearrange his schedule to spend as much as one full day volunteering.
Marin said, “We have a variety of things for volunteers; they can do what suits them; we can always use some help. We can tackle what they want to do.
We want them to be happy and to continue volunteering.
“One of the things that I find interesting about being here is this group of professionals are really professional. I enjoy being around people who are very service oriented. I am amazed how they will go out of their way to help; whether it’s administration at the front desk or on the street, the mindset is one of public service. You can’t help but admire the work they do.
Lenore Flanders, Program Coordinator with the North Coast Opportunity Volunteer Program, oversees 11 RSVP programs and is currently focusing on CHP.
“I am very impressed with their program; it’s very diverse. That’s a big part of volunteering; You want to do something that interests you. Additionally, volunteering at CHP enhances their mission to ensure safety and provide services to the public.
“Volunteering emerges locally by enriching the community and enabling seniors to be active in their retirement, helping, serving; it is as useful as giving it helps.
Senior Volunteers must pass a qualifying interview conducted by the designated Area Commander and Area coordinator. Those interested must not have criminal convictions; willing to perform various tasks assigned during working hours; can work with minimal supervision; and at least 50 years old.
Go to volunteernco.org to register. For further information contact Lenore Flanders at 707) 621-8669 or [email protected]