City of La Verne logoIn the spirit of the holiday season, the City of La Verne would like to recognize its dedicated and generous community volunteers. The coronavirus pandemic may have limited the City’s volunteering opportunities in 2020, but it has not diminished the unwavering commitment of La Verne’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers. The City and community eagerly await the return of their smiling faces and good work around town as soon as 2021 will allow!

“Our RSVP and CERT volunteers are the very embodiment of what makes the La Verne community so special and we are eternally grateful for their generosity with their time and passion to serve our residents,” said La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn. “We look forward to being able to ramp up volunteer opportunities in the future so we can reconnect with our ‘regulars’ and hopefully welcome new volunteers as well!”

The La Verne Police Department’s (LVPD) Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) provides a variety of opportunities for local retirees to both assist the Police Department’s public safety efforts and give back to the community. Over the course of 2019 alone, the RSVPs reported approximately 15,000 hours of service! Many of these hours are spent acting as additional ‘eyes and ears’ through crime deterrent patrols around town, including at retail centers which has proven especially important around the busy holiday shopping season.

The LVPD also deploys its trained RSVP volunteers to conduct vacation house checks which involves volunteers periodically dropping in on and monitoring houses for residents that have indicated they will be away from home for a specific period of time. Additionally, RSVP volunteers spearhead the Department’s You Are Not Alone (YANA) program, which has proven to be a life-saving service for some La Verne seniors. As part of YANA, volunteers check in on fellow seniors in the community and ensure they are connected with loved ones and have access to basic necessities like prescriptions.

“The RSVPs’ commitment to ensuring the safety of their fellow La Verne community members is unparalleled and goes above and beyond the program’s description,” said LVPD Lieutenant Sam Gonzalez. “Although COVID-19 has, unfortunately, limited many RSVP activities, their warmth and the impact they have made is ever-present. Our entire department cannot wait to see them back again in full force soon.”

While the LVPD RSVP volunteer program is unique to retired seniors, the La Verne Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, affiliated with La Verne Fire Department (LVFD), is open to anyone age 18 and above. CERT is an international standardized training program that empowers residents to be prepared and take care of themselves and their neighbors in case of emergencies. The LVFD initiated the La Verne CERT program less than five years ago and, since its official launch in 2017, has already trained over 170 community members. Of those trained, more than 30 have volunteered to be official CERT team members.

All those who have gone through the free CERT training have learned valuable skills that allows them to be a bridge between those who are injured and in need during a disaster and first responders. While personal safety is a top priority, CERT-trained community members also have knowledge of how to provide basic first aid and stabilize injured individuals, assess damage, conduct light search and rescue efforts, put out small fires and more. In addition to the basic CERT training course, members receive ongoing refresher training classes and exercises as well as supplemental training such as CPR/First Aid/AED, Stop the Bleed, and Traffic and Crowd Management. All those trained can provide invaluable service to both their families and neighbors. Those who have chosen to become formal La Verne CERT team member volunteers play an important role in augmenting LVFD’s response to disasters, such as fires and earthquakes. In those cases, the La Verne CERT team could, for example, be deployed to survey damage in neighborhoods to ensure that emergency resources are allocated strategically and appropriately.

“The reality is that when a major disaster hits, emergency response teams may not be able to get to some residents for 72+ hours,” said LVFD Battalion Chief Kevin Greenway. “Therefore, all those who take the CERT training contribute to creating a stronger and more resilient community. And we are especially grateful for our CERT team members who are prepared to serve the La Verne community and assist LVFD during a disaster scenario.”

RSVP and CERT program volunteers also conduct community outreach and participate in La Verne’s community events throughout the year. In fact, La Verne residents will have the opportunity to show their support for these wonderful volunteers Christmas morning when they accompany Santa Claus as he visits La Verne neighborhoods!

Although both the RSVP and CERT programs have been disrupted due to COVID-19, La Verne residents are encouraged to learn more about and participate in these volunteer programs.