Chelsea C.O.P. celebrates 25 years of service to the community

Published 7:34 am Friday, March 1, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – Members of the Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol gathered together for an extra special annual meeting as the C.O.P. celebrated its 25th year of serving the city of Chelsea and its citizens.

The organization held the 25th annual C.O.P. Awards Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Chelsea Community Center. During the meeting, members of the C.O.P. enjoyed a dinner as they gathered together to officially recognize the thousands of hours of volunteer they have given to the city.

“It’s remarkable to reflect on the journey of our program as we celebrate this quarter century milestone,” said Carlos Sanders, director of the C.O.P. “Over the past 25 years, our Citizen Observer Patrol has played a vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of our community. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the dedication and hard work of all those that contributed (and served over the years). Here is to the next 25 years of service and commitment to making Chelsea a safer place.”

At the start of the evening, Sanders took a moment during the program to highlight a small table that symbolized the many individuals who have served the C.O.P. over the last 25 years that died as active members and died after leaving the program.

“The table, set for one, is small symbolizing the frailty of one person,” Sanders said. “The tablecloth is white symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to the city’s call for volunteers. A single red rose displayed in the vase reminds us of families and loved ones of our fellow volunteers who support our cause. The candle is lit symbolizing the upper reach of their unconquerable spirit. The glass is inverted they cannot toast with us tonight.”

After enjoying a catered dinner, the program continued with a message from this year’s guest speaker, Col. John A. Salvador who served as the chief operating officer of the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters at the Maxwell Air Force Base.

Salvador highlighted the level of service that the C.O.P. brings to the city of Chelsea and compared it to the efforts of the Civil Air Patrol which is also a volunteer organization.

“I was not aware of Chelsea, I was not aware of the Citizen Observer Patrol and what an amazing idea, right, very innovative,” he said. “To find a way, that doesn’t cost a lot of money, but to augment all the services that are needed and you as volunteers provide service (and) you feel like you’re contributing something that’s good for the city (and) for your community. So, it’s a win, win all the way around.”

During his presentation, Salvador also highlighted a few statistics, including the fact that the C.O.P. has provided more than $5 million in service to the city during its 25 years of service.

“There’s nothing that you cannot do if you all work together as one team,” he said.

The 25th anniversary of the organization was extra special for one member at the dinner who was able to enjoy seeing the fruits of his labor after having founded the organization in 1998.

“I’m glad I did it,” said Jay Jerman, the founding member of the C.O.P. “It’s working and we’ve got a relatively safe community and this is part of it.”

Jerman highlighted all of the civic services the organization provides on top of crime deterrence, including assisting with football games, the annual Big Kaboom event, the Chelsea Christmas Parade, assistance with downed power lines and more.

“This program is just truly unique in the fact that, even at times it’s membership stays level, the service hours never cease,” Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer said. “It is on such a growth pattern now, but with new members coming in, the future of the C.O.P. is really bright.”

Before closing out the evening, Sanders presented awards to the members of the C.O.P. for their thousands of hours of free, community service and dedication to the organization and the city.

Johnna Barnes was presented with the Rookie of the Year Award for 2023 and Bob Bush was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award for 2023 by the mayor.

“Congratulations to all of you that have been honored tonight,” Picklesimer said. “Thank you so much for your service.”

At the very end of the evening, the C.O.P. presented a check to the Chelsea City Council in the amount of $379,775.29—representing the many hours of service that were given to the city and its citizens without charge.