When Clare Holmes and a friend saw a flyer advertising for Auxiliary police members, they had no idea what the job entailed.
“We went downtown to see what it was all about, got an interview and were hired,” she recalled. “It was just like that.”
Currently, over 340 Auxiliaries volunteer approximately 70,000 hours of their time annually to assist the Service’s community mobilization initiatives, crime prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call outs.
Thirty four years later, Holmes is still in uniform serving with pride and distinction.
On March 9, she was recognized for her lengthy and outstanding service with the 43 Division Auxiliary of the Year Award.
“Clare is extremely dedicated to this program,” said Constable Julie Campbell who joined Staff Sergeant Todd Flanders in presenting the award. “Last year, she took control of the toy drive and she has been a role model and mentor to our younger officers.”
The recognition caught Holmes, who retired from the Toronto District School Board three years ago, off guard.
“I work with a great team of people here and it’s nice to know they value what I do to the point where they feel I should be honoured,” she said. “I really appreciate it. This volunteer program has allowed me to do and see a lot of things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was not part of it.”
Holmes issued a challenge to young people to step up and volunteer in their communities.
“I wish they would put down their phones and computers, go outside and volunteer,” she said.
The veteran Auxiliary officer has been involved with the 43 Division Christmas toy drive from its inception.
“About five years ago, I saw a young woman that we had delivered a doll to several years ago when she was at a shelter with her mom,” said Holmes. “She was a teenager when I ran into her again and she said she still has that doll and treasures it a lot. That’s when I really grasped the full impact of what that toy distribution means to families in need.”
Holmes, who averages about 500 volunteer hours a year, is among 16 Auxiliary officers assigned to 43 Division.
“We have got a great team here,” said Flanders. “Whether it is the Lock it of Lose it campaign or and speed enforcement, our Auxiliaries do outstanding work in the community and they deserve recognition. I have to tell you that with the way the Service is right now, we couldn’t provide the level of service to the community that you support us in doing.
“You are a valued part of what we do and I must assure you there is no us and them when it comes to sworn members and Auxiliaries. Be proud of yourself and be proud of your uniform. As a team, I think you are the best Auxiliary team in the Service.”
The 43 Division Auxiliary members donate nearly 5,000 hours annually.
Auxiliary Officer Daniel Ng, known as @LegoCopGTA on Twitter, started making Lego law-enforcement officers several years ago as a hobby.
He uses his account to educate people about the roles of police and to put out public-safety messages. He has since expanded to more emergency services, civilian and Auxiliary policing roles as well as depictions of TTC employees.
He draws inspiration from his work navigating the city as a streetcar operator, a job he loves.
“We went to Lego Canada and I didn’t have to explain who you are,” Campbell told him at the awards ceremony of the positive impact he has had. “They knew who you are and what you are doing.”
Lego Canada sent a Letter of Appreciation and the 754-piece Lego set that was presented to Ng.