To say that Gloria Benavides was surprised on learning that she was the inaugural Auxiliary Officer Appreciation of the Month award winner is an understatement.
“It was a big surprise and I was really shocked,” she said. “I don’t volunteer expecting to get anything back in return. That’s not why I gave back.”
Benavides was presented with a framed certificate and a gift card on July 28.
Sergeant Sheila Richardson, who is the Auxiliary program co-ordinator with responsibility for 348 members, made the presentation. The uniformed 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.
“Gloria has served with us for almost three decades and is a true ambassador,” she said. “Our Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit is endeavouring to encourage and motivate our Auxiliary officers and this is one of the ways we are doing that by honouring a member monthly.”
Starting at 32 Division in 1988, Benavides was also assigned to 33 Division before landing at 31 Division.
“I am still enjoying the job today as when I first joined,” she said. “I love working particularly with young people.”
Benavides has contributed almost 2,800 hours of volunteer service.
She counts the nearly 80 hours she put in during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan American Games as amongst the most rewarding and satisfying.
At the Parapan Games opening ceremony, Benavides helped a Brazilian competitor who was having difficulties in locating a restroom.
“I escorted the athlete there and waited until the individual was finished and then I got a bottle of water for the person,” she recalled. “The athlete was very appreciative even though I told him I was just doing my job.”
Benavides doesn’t plan to retire soon.
“It’s fun and rewarding, so why should I stop now?” she said.
Anyone interested in becoming an Auxiliary should visit tps.on.ca/careers