Volunteers making a difference 4 Lisle

  • Dennis Rucker is the coordinator for the Volunteers 4 Lisle program.

    Dennis Rucker is the coordinator for the Volunteers 4 Lisle program. Courtesy of Joan Broz

Posted7/8/2015 1:00 AM

If you want to make a difference, Volunteers 4 Lisle offers a variety of opportunities. The program benefits both the community and the volunteer.

Officially under the Lisle Police Department, Volunteers 4 Lisle participants of all ages do not need to be Lisle residents to participate. You can use talents and skills you have learned over the years, or develop new ones.


Can you fold leaflets, distribute signs or scan in police reports? These were some of the recent tasks Lisle resident and volunteer Julie LaFond accomplished.

"The program sounded to be a worthwhile place for my time," LaFond said. "Even though I am not a computer person, there are so many things to be done. I help distribute the Alert Bulletins that other volunteers create. So there is a spot for anyone."

Would you like to work the group's weather station looking at satellite maps for potential storms, wind velocity and river gauges? Do you have an interest in amateur radios? Are you willing to offer your services when Lisle has a parade? Can you perform vacation watches within your neighborhood? Can you conduct computer-based research, assist with the DARE program, or staff the police booth during community events? Could you provide bilingual translation services, perform general administrative duties, compile crime data and statistics, or write computer programs? Do you want to help when an emergency occurs or learn about emergency management?

"During the April 2013 flood, so many people wanted to volunteer to help our residents in need," Lisle Mayor Joe Broda said. "However, there was no organized structure in place to make the most of the assistance."

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"If the Volunteers 4 Lisle were in operation prior to the devastating floods in 2013, we would have had people sitting at our weather station (in the police station) predicting a day ahead, and maybe two days ahead, that with more rain we were going to have massive flooding," said Dennis Rucker, volunteer program coordinator. "Our team also is doing research on sandless sandbags that are activated by the floodwaters themselves. They are lightweight and reusable."

"The main idea is to get people organized," LaFond said. "I think in the future you will see volunteers helping in many different ways throughout the village."

An application for volunteering is on the village of Lisle website, villageoflisle.org under the heading "How Do I." Applicants will undergo a personal interview, a background check and drug screening.

Lisle Police Chief David Anderson has been the champion of getting the program under way with the help of Rucker. The Lisle program is modeled after the national Volunteers in Police Service program, and is an integral part of Lisle's Emergency Management Agency. Deputy Police Chief Ron Wilke oversees the police program.


Since March 2014, Rucker, who has both a law enforcement and executive management background, worked tirelessly to set up the Lisle volunteer program.

"One advantage of our program is that you do not have to fit into one niche, as you might in other volunteer programs," Rucker said. "We ask our volunteers what they would like to do, and get you the training. We are considered unpaid village employees."

There are no minimum hours needed for the commitment.

"Benefits include working with and meeting a whole group of interesting people," Rucker said. "This department is the best, and there is a real commitment to the program from the police, the village mayor and its board of trustees."

The program is registered with the U. S. Thousand Points of Light to keep track of the volunteer hours.

The program has dedicated space at the police station to set up its operations, or volunteers can work from their homes.

Rucker, a certified storm spotter, has taught weather classes over the years. He considers the group's multiple monitor weather station to be state-of-the-art. Last year, he trained the village public works department in storm spotting, and offers a class called HAM CRAM so volunteers may earn their amateur radio license.

"We are trying to get as many people trained in amateur radio as possible, so we can continue operations if in an emergency all our primary modes of communications are down," Rucker said.

Wilke said the Alert Bulletin the volunteers produce could not happen without them.

"If the information in the bulletin takes a few weeks to get out, the scam may be gone," Wilke said. "So it is very important to get the information out quickly."

The turnaround time for the volunteers is a single day. They then make Alert Bulletins available at TRIAD meetings, the Lisle Public Library, the village hall, the Lisle Park District and in the lobby at the Lisle Police Department.

"Even in a village there is limited tax revenue, but you still want to provide top-notch quality services to its residents, and our volunteer program helps do that," Rucker said. "To work here is also a lot of fun."

Through donated time and skills, village services can be sustained, volunteers make new friendships, and the community flourishes. Another residual benefit of having Volunteers 4 Lisle includes more residents out in the community with insights into law enforcement and its operations.

The singular qualification for being a Volunteer 4 Lisle is a sincere desire to give back to the community, Rucker said.

"We would not turn down anyone because of limited mobility. We have great flexibility to use the services of anyone who has that sincere desire," Rucker said.

"We look at our volunteers as an extra pair of eyes and ears in the community."

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle each month in Neighbor.

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