In her 27 years as an Auxiliary officer, Gloria Benavides has contributed almost 2,200 hours of volunteer service.
She, however, counts the nearly 80 hours she put in during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games as among the most rewarding and satisfying.
Starting at 32 Division, Benavides was also assigned to 33 Division before landing at 31 Division.
“I took this job because I love helping people and giving back to the community,” she said. “I have really relished my time as an Auxiliary. Working at the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies and at some of the venues would certainly rank among the highlight of my career.”
With 7,666 athletes competing in 51 sports, the 2015 Games were the largest international sporting event ever held in Canada, seen by hundreds of millions of people across the Americas and the Caribbean.
Benavides joined other Auxiliaries on November 7 at a recognition ceremony at the police college.
The Auxiliaries combined to volunteer approximately 8,370 hours during the Games.
Chief Mark Saunders joined Divisional Policing Support Unit Superintendent Peter Yuen and Inspector Brian Preston in thanking the Auxiliaries and presenting them with certificates and hats.
“You are part of the police family,” Saunders told them. “When people look for help, they go to you first and you have to rely on the training we have given you and adhere by the core values and all of those principles that are so necessary in order for you to wear that uniform. You don’t just wear it because we give it to you. It’s because you have earned it. The fact that you put in so many hours during the Games on top of your regular hours says so much about who you are as people and human beings and, for that, I thank you.”
Working 24-hour shifts, the Auxiliary officers undertook 836 assignments, including the opening and closing ceremonies, Panamania at Nathan Phillips Square, the Athletes Villages and Pan Am Park. They also assisted with road closures.
A total of 65 Auxiliary officers were also trained for bike patrols during the Games.
“When you sign up to be an Auxiliary, we ask you to be an ambassador,” said Yuen. “We ask you to deliver exceptional customer service and we ask you to wear our uniform proudly and to represent the City of Toronto. You did a great job for us.”
Preston, responsible for securing more than half of the venues, concurred.
“I was on the ground during the Games and I witnessed your dedication, professionalism and positive interaction,” he added. “You were all ambassadors for the Service and you did a great job, not only for Toronto Police, but also for the city.”