SPPD Explorer Mayra Velasquez serves it up with a smile at the “Tip an Explorer” fundraiser. Supporters dug deep into their pockets for extra tip money to benefit the Explorer’s new van, equipment and other program needs.

SPPD Explorers take to restaurant floor for tip fundraiser

July 09, 2010
Santa Paula Police Department

It was time to “Tip an Explorer” at the Santa Paula Police Explorer Post #2352 fundraiser, held June 23 at Garman’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, where hungry supporters enjoyed dinner and the knowledge their gratuities would benefit the Santa Paula Police youth program.

“We have about a dozen Explorers here,” said SPPD Reserve/Explorers Assistant Advisor Dave Curran, who worked with Garman’s owner Clint Garman and staff “for about a month” to coordinate the fundraiser, which he hopes will be an annual event. When asked if the proceeds would help purchase a van for Explorers, Curran joked the vehicle has already been bought: “Now, we need gas!”

Curran’s new goal is to get the van officially detailed and ready to take Explorers to competitions, field trips and conferences, as well as other program needs. “And we’re still accepting applications” from youth 14 to 20 years old to join the SPPD Post, founded in May 2006. “We have about a dozen attending the Explorers Academy” out of the total force of 23, who Curran said can take an active part in the program leading up to their formal training.

Many SPPD officers attended the event to offer their support to the kids they work beside, including those Explorers that may become law enforcement colleagues in the future. A handy helper for the kids was Martha Brown, a member of Citizens Patrol, the Santa Paula Citizens Corps Council and a Garman’s employee.

“The kids aren’t nervous,” noted Curran, and in fact were fulfilling their fundraising assignment “better than me!” Explorers underwent about an hour of “mini-training to teach them to wait tables” and, noted Curran, “as with everything we do, failure is not an option for us. And they seem to be doing a good job!”

Sergeant Jimmy Fogata was being kept busy handing out promotional brochures and applications for the Explorers program. “We tell recruits Explorers are an integral part of our department, they’re just not sitting there... it’s all about working and learning, and they become a part of us in every aspect of what we do.”

And the most common question asked of Fogata? “The biggest question,” he noted with a laugh, “is ‘Where’s your dog?’” Fogata’s K9 partner Evan.

Explorers Advisor Senior Officer Ken Clark said more fundraisers are being planned including a poker tournament in the near future. “Recent funds from similar donations were used to purchase a van to transport the Explorers to different events. The donations we are collecting now will help with Explorer Academy expenses and any other miscellaneous equipment costs.”

Explorer of the Year Alfred Valencia was busy, especially when a group of Citrus Classic Balloon Festival committee members jammed around a side table. “These kids,” Festival Founder/Coordinator Carla Edwards said, “are just terrific!”

Valencia admitted it was his first time working in a restaurant. “It’s harder than I thought it was,” and “more complicated” than most customers probably would ever realize.

But the work - although challenging - was good, especially when considering the cause: “I’m really excited about raising money for our van... what’s our goal? As much,” Valencia noted, “as we can get, I guess!”

Diners dug even deeper into their pockets for tips that would benefit the program, and Explorers were excited that they were serving SPPD officers, community supporters, and Chief of Police Steve MacKinnon, who had high praise for Explorers.

“One thing I think is really neat is that I’m continuously impressed by the quality of our Explorers. They’re constantly present in the community” at special events and celebrations, “and at the police station,” where MacKinnon said they work with officers and others doing whatever task is assigned. As the restaurant filled and more and more Explorers bustled about, MacKinnon noted it’s obvious “Our Explorers are a real asset to the department and the community.”

The Explorer Post is actively recruiting new Explorers, male or female, between the ages of 14-20 who have an interest in law enforcement. For more information, contact Clark at 525-4474 Ext 152.

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