Volunteers lend helping hands in Otis Orchards
Neighborhood Sheriff Community Oriented Policing Effort (SCOPE) stations often maintain a presence in the community, but SCOPE East, 4904 N. Harvard Road, No. 3, often gets involved with Otis Orchards Elementary School by putting up a radar sign in the area to remind people to slow down, registering the students’ bicycles in case they are lost or stolen, and holding bicycle rodeos that teach bike safety and fit children for free helmets.
SCOPE East President Jim Thrawley said the radar signs are a great reminder to drivers to slow down in school zones. He said he thinks people mostly just forget to slow down, but when they see the signs, they usually do.
“That means they are working,” Thrawley said.
The station has been around since 1994. It is now located in an old pizza parlor, which has been renovated to suit their needs.
Volunteers are heavily involved in neighborhood patrols, vacation checks on homes, and Operation Family ID.
Marilyn Greer, one of the volunteers, is in charge of making sure every SCOPE station in the county has the materials they need for Operation Family ID. She also signs up volunteers to register families with the program at the Spokane County Fair. Operation Family ID fingerprints children, babies, senior citizens and anyone else in the family and includes a picture and relevant personal information in case anyone is missing.
“Everyone that’s born and still alive,” Greer said of participants.
Other activities for the volunteers at the fair include helping lost children find their families, patrolling the parking lots and making sure no one is smoking cigarettes where they shouldn’t.
SCOPE East has about 26 active members and they are always looking for more volunteers. Thrawley has been involved with the station since 2003 after participating in other volunteer activities.
“I’ve been actively involved in volunteering since my retirement,” he said.
Thrawley remembers being at Spokane Valley Partners about a month ago when a woman fell and broke her hip. He stayed with her and kept her calm until help arrived. She recently returned to the organization to thank him and give him a hug.
“It’s an experience that I’ll long remember,” he said.
Every year, the volunteers also participate in various fundraisers. The main one is Otis Community Days, which includes a parade, games and an auction.
They also hold yard sales and distribute refreshments at the eastbound Interstate 90 rest stop in Spangle and at a rest stop near Rosalia.
They donate the funds to the food banks, the Fallen Officers Fund and other groups. Member Betty Lohr recently dropped off about 500 pounds of produce at Spokane Valley Partners and the volunteers also helped transport 1,000 pounds of squash from Fresh Start to Spokane Valley Partners.
The Otis Orchards area has been seeing a few vehicle break-ins and drug trafficking. There have also been a few instances of domestic violence, but Thrawley said for the most part, neighbors have been pretty fortunate lately.
“We have a very good community,” he said.