The Citizens Police Academy of Coppell Alumni Association (CPAC) has primarily focused its efforts on how it can help the city’s police department. But thanks to a challenge from Crime Prevention Officer Paul Gonzales, the organization is reaching outside the community to give a helping hand to those in need.
The group has been involved in three initiatives so far including Metrocrest Services, the Children’s Medical Network and the River Oaks and Christus St. Joseph Village retirement community.
"What I think is a great opportunity with CPAC is we have a lot of people who are in Coppell who are volunteering with CPAC and volunteering with the city of Coppell,” CPAC member Maureen Corcoran said. “But being able to have this outreach takes people out of our little safe city and community and puts us in other volunteer opportunities.”
Corcoran and fellow member Suzanne Barker have been heading the volunteer effort for Metrocrest Services. So far the two have led volunteers to help with the nonprofit’s food pantry and the Sack Summer Hunger program.
Barker said she was happy to take part in the effort.
“I have a 9- and 11-year-old, and I want them to see that if you’re part of a community, you can do your part to help better the community,” she said. “I want them to have good feelings toward the police. If we can lean toward one another, then we can do a lot to alleviate some issues and fears among both groups.”
Trudy Heatherly is heading the effort at the Children’s Medical Network.
“Giving back and giving to children and giving them help is really a key part of what we want to bring to them, and so it's great we launched these outreach programs this year,” Heatherly said.
Heatherly said volunteering is a way to broaden CPAC’s exposure, broaden the perspective of the community and to let others know that there’s more than one way to give back than just serving the police department.
“A year ago our primary focus was what can we do for the police and how we can partner with them, but now we’re taking that really beyond that,” she said.
At the retirement communities, Scott Wilson takes a team to visit with the seniors and teach on important topics like how to protect against fraud. Wilson said many times this community is “out of sight and out of mind.”
“They get there and families are busy, and there’s not always people coming by to visit,” Wilson said. “It’s a way to go in and to build relationships and give back to those folks.”
The group said they hope that their work not only helps those they’re servicing but that it also encourages others to volunteer or join CPAC.
“We hope it catches like fire,” Gonzales said. “If we can get other agencies doing the same type of thing, that’s great. Law enforcement is not just about enforcing the law, it’s about relationships within your community.”