By LOIS KINDLE
Those of us who live in Sun City Center have all received appeals for monetary donations or calls to volunteer from the various nonprofit groups serving the community. Key among them are the Emergency Squad, Samaritan Services, Security Patrol and the Men’s Club.
The services these organizations provide are among the things that attract many to retire to Sun City Center, but they’re not valued by some of us until they’re actually needed.
The Emergency Squad – the last volunteer organization of its kind in the state – has a pressing need for ambulance personnel, so much so that only one of its four ambulances is routinely used during any 24-hour period.
“Twenty years ago, we were able to run three ambulances during the day and two overnight,” said EMT Robin Watt, director of recruitment. “Now, when our one ambulance is out on a call, we can’t respond to other calls from people who need us.”
Ambulance volunteers – emergency medical technicians, emergency medical responders, ambulance drivers and van drivers – are willing to have patient contact, and they’re extremely dedicated. They work eight-hour shifts every eight days and due to the existing shortage, often end up taking on extra shifts.
The squad responds to calls for basic life support in the community and charges nothing for the service. Many of its calls are pleas for assistance from seniors who have fallen and can’t get up. Were it not for the squad, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue would have an additional 5000-plus calls to respond to each year.
Free training is provided either through the squad or (in the case of EMTs) Hillsborough Community College SouthShore. Uniforms are also provided at no charge.
The Emergency Squad has many other volunteer opportunities with shorter shifts, including the important job of dispatching.
The community’s Security Patrol is always looking for volunteers who can drive or dispatch a minimum of three hours per month. The patrol can work around any volunteer’s individual needs by adjusting shifts.
“We pride ourselves on our flexibility,” said Security Patrol Chief Tim Broad.
Two drivers per shift cover all of the streets in the community, except for the gated community of Kings Point, which has its own paid gate and clubhouse security. One driver takes the streets north of State Road 674 and the other, all of the streets south.
Drivers look for anything unusual – broken windows, water coming from a garage, younger people roaming around, a bad pothole, stray dog, etc., and report whatever they see to the dispatcher. They also place informational pamphlets on vehicles improperly parked on sidewalks or blocking driveways.
The Security Patrol’s role is to observe and report, then alert the necessary agency, if needed.
Then there’s Samaritan Services. This nonprofit organization offers several free, weekday services to SCC residents: provides transportation for ambulatory residents to medical appointments anywhere in South Shore, Brandon, Bradenton and Tampa, with advance notice of 10 to 14 days; provides transportation via SCC Ride for in-town medical appointments, errands of any kind, banking, shopping and more between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; coordinates the local Meals on Wheels program; and provides 60 free hours of Alzheimer’s respite care.
Volunteers for SCC Ride work a minimum of 3 ½ hours per month from either 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Out- of-town drivers hours vary, depending on the destination and length of the appointment.
“We’re very, very flexible,” said Pat Rapach, president. “You sign up for when it’s convenient for you.”
The Men’s Club benefits the community by hosting public health forums throughout the year; sponsoring support groups for folks with low vision, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes; and raising funds to support local community needs.
For example, it recently donated $7,132 for child CPR mannequins to the Emergency Squad and earlier this year donated $32,000 to Samaritan’s Services for a 2023 Toyota Camry Hybrid for its out-of-town service and $1,000 to the Security Patrol toward the purchase of hand-held radios. It also funds Hearing Loop locations in the community and offers the 24/7 Lifeline program to SCC residents.
You may not require any of these services now, but at some point in your life you might very well need one or more of them. Consider becoming a volunteer while you’re able and help keep the groups supplying them thriving.
Come learn more.
The Men’s Club, Security Patrol, Samaritan’s Services and the Emergency Squad will host a joint gathering Dec. 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Community Hall, 1910 S. Pebble Beach, Rooms 3 & 4.
If you’re not sure how or where you’d fit as a volunteer, here’s your chance to meet representatives of these four organizations and get answers to all your questions.
If you can, bring along an unwrapped toy for Operation Toy Soldier or some canned goods for the SCC United Methodist Church Food Pantry.
The event will feature finger foods and drawings for gift baskets.
Unable to attend? You can call Samaritan Services directly for information at 813-634-9283 or SCC Ride at 813-633-6111.
For information on volunteer opportunities with the Emergency Squad, contact Chris McCann, asst. chief of HR at 813-434-4184. For the Men’s Club, call (813) 633-7091 and for the Security Patrol, 813-642-2020.