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Bill and Becky Truax were recently recognized as Volunteers of the Year at the annual Volunteers in Police Services award dinner.
Though traditionally the award is given to one volunteer, the James City County Police Department made an exception for the Truaxes, who “always sign up as a team” when they volunteer.
When Bill and Becky moved down to Williamsburg from Manassas in 2006, the community spirit in their new town immediately impressed them.
“One of our daughters attended William and Mary, which is how we first became familiar with the area,” Bill said.
“There’s so much to offer here – history, family attractions – we looked other places [when we were considering moving] but this one fit,” Becky added.
Motivated by a desire to give back to the community they’ve called home for nine years, Bill was inspired by a neighbor to enroll the Citizens Police Academy, which the county police department offers several times a year. He convinced Becky to join him so they could spend more time together.
Over the course of 14 weeks, the academy opened their eyes to many aspects of police work previously unknown to them, Becky said.
“We covered every facet of the police department,” Bill said. “We would recommend the CPA to anybody, even if they aren’t interested in doing volunteer work.”
Their newly gained insight into the many services police provide to the community inspired the them to begin volunteering with VIPs within a month of completing the program. Since they joined in June 2013, the couple has accrued hundreds of volunteer hours between them. During that time, they have continued to be impressed and inspired by the dedication of the local police force.
“James City County police are really dedicated to building a bridge between their department and the community,” Becky said.
As volunteers with the police department, the pair works at many outreach events designed to foster that connection.
The annual Car Show is among the yearly highlights for Bill and Becky. The event benefits Project Lifesaver, an initiative that outfits people in the community who are prone to getting lost with wristbands that can track their location at any time.
Child ID and National Night Out are among other outreach events for which the Truaxes have volunteered. At these and other similar events, Bill and Becky can be found helping out with setup, parking, check-in and the different children’s activity booths that often accompany police department events.
“Becky particularly loves anything that allows us to work with children,” Bill said. “She has a real passion for that.”
Another driving passion behind the couple’s decision to spend so much time volunteering with the police department is their admiration for the work local officers carry out in the face of a somewhat hostile national climate.
“What’s going on in our nation now breaks my heart,” Becky said. “There are going to be bad people in every profession, but there are none in James City County [police department]. We shouldn’t take them for granted.”
The annual VIPS award ceremony is the police department’s way of recognizing their citizen volunteers, who in the past year have put in about 1,850 hours of their time to assist the police department.
When they were named as volunteers of the year, Bill and Becky felt “complete shock” and were humbled by the recognition.
“We didn’t expect it and we don’t do it for that reason,” Bill said. “We just want to get across how impressed we are with the dedication of the police here and our fellow volunteers. And we plan to keep doing this for years to come.”