Volunteers at the Cape Coral Police Department were recognized for their hard work this week.
On Wednesday, those volunteers were treated to the annual volunteer appreciation luncheon at the Cape Coral Yacht Club with thick, juicy steaks and numerous awards for years of service, hours, and a special award for one volunteer who went over and beyond.
And one hard-working volunteer cleaned up during the awards portion, saying he just wanted to give back for all life has given him.
Cape Coral Police Chief Bart Connelly, Volunteer of the Year Joe Cobb, and Terry Nicodemus at the Cape Coral Police Department Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the Yacht Club on Wednesday.
The hard work the nearly 150 volunteers, who have worked for the department for nearly 20 years, doesn't go unnoticed, as they provided more than 46,000 man hours in 2013, about 1,000 more than last year, to perform tasks at the desk or on the street, freeing up officers to do their jobs.
"They help with parking enforcement, monitor homes for people on vacation, and work at the desk," Michael Torregrossa, captain of special operations, said. "They supplement our manpower at a great cost savings for the city."
That's about $800,000 per year, or about what it would cost for about 15 officers. Further, they bring a lot of passion to their job and are enjoyable to be around.
"They have a passion for serving. They want to serve their community and they're available daily to do that, so it's a win-win," Police Chief Bart Connelly said.
After lunch, police handed out awards for those who have served five, 10 and 15 years, volunteer recognition for those who worked the most hours, with Bryan Sheen leading the way with 1,189 hours, achievement awards to numerous volunteers, and finally, the volunteer of the year.
That honor went to Cpl. Joe Cobb, who works for the special event coordinator by handling traffic and enforcement at some of the city's bigger events and was also feted for his more than 1,000 hours of service this year, an achievement award, and for his five years of service.
"I was shocked. I feel there are many other people that are much more deserving. I'm just proud to be a volunteer," Cobb said, who has been a volunteer for five years. "I had an uncle in the police, so it's always been close to my heart. When I saw they needed help, I applied."
Cobb has done the marine patrol boat, road work, and city hall, where he has worked the desk along with city Councilmember Rana Erbrick.
He joked that his wife always asks why he's never home.
"I don't think you want me home all the time," Cobb said. "I got involved in all our special events to help with parking or traffic. I want to be supportive in everything I do."
It's the volunteer work of people like Cobb and all the rest that makes the serving steak and baked potatoes a small price to pay for all they give back.
"For us to be able to get together for a few hours and show appreciation is a great thing," said Det. Sgt. Dana Coston. "As a patrol sergeant, they're invaluable. When you have a major incident that ties up police assets for hours, having volunteers roll up and ask how they can help keep officers on the street."