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Without fanfare, man helps Crime Stoppers thrive

Some volunteers work on the front lines, visible to the community. Everyone knows their names and positions. But another kind of volunteer spends hours behind the scenes, serving quietly without fanfare. That’s the style of Patrick DeVries. And on June 11, the North Spokane Exchange Club presented him with its annual Golden Deeds Award, recognizing his efforts.

DeVries, owner of DeVries Business Services, was honored for his work with Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest as a board member and past president.

He became involved with the group more than a decade ago because he wanted to “make Spokane a better and safer place to live.” As a lifelong resident DeVries understood the challenges that faced local law enforcement. “They can’t do it all,” he said.

Crime Stoppers, a global network comprised of independent local organizations, offers cash rewards for tips that lead to the solution of a crime. The Web site includes their mission: “Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest is where law enforcement and the community come together as partners to work towards making the region a safer place to live, work, and raise a family.”

DeVries said his involvement with the organization has been “a rewarding and interesting way to help the community.” The program has been very successful. In 2008 Crime Stoppers received 524 tips and paid out approximately $5,000 in rewards. Since inception in 1976, Crime Stoppers has paid out more than $150,000.

For example, a recent tip provided to the organization was instrumental in bringing resolution to the hit-and-run death of 29-year-old Robb Long. Christopher J. Lynch was sentenced in February to 34 months in prison. He was arrested when a tipster spotted his car in Mica.

Exchange Club member Bob Anderson said DeVries exemplifies the spirit of service that the club encourages. “The North Spokane Exchange Club is a group of people who come together and offer service to our community to make it better,” he said.

Eric Green, Crime Stoppers board president, said dedication and leadership are the two words he’d use to describe DeVries’ commitment to the organization. The nonprofit is administered by volunteers and depends on donations from local individuals and businesses to fund the rewards. Currently, the group is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the solution of the rash of OxyContin robberies at local pharmacies.

In a letter describing the choice of DeVries as the Golden Deeds Award winner, Chad Grief, president of the North Spokane Exchange Club, said “Patrick’s enthusiasm and long-standing commitment to Crime Stoppers and our community is an inspiration to all of us and a tribute to Patrick’s character as a volunteer.”

However, DeVries downplays his own contribution, focusing instead on the bigger picture. “The key to safety is for all of us to pay attention and use our resources wisely. It’s up to every one of us to provide a safe community.”

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