After 24 years and more than 10,000 hours spent at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, Ginger Hunnicutt isn’t surprised by much — certainly not by receiving the station’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
Hunnicutt, 84, won the award Wednesday for the third time.
Along with reserve deputies and her fellow volunteers, Hunnicutt was honored at the Crescenta Valley station’s 50th annual Volunteer and Reserve Award Banquet at Pasadena’s Brookside Country Club. Hunnicutt received raucous applause and a standing ovation as she accepted the honor.
Even though she felt like an Academy Awards runner-up after failing to win the countywide volunteer of the year award this year (she’s won that twice before), Hunnicutt said the energy and sense of purpose that comes from volunteering is reward enough.
“I don’t feel old. [Volunteering] makes me young,” she said. “They give back to me so much more than I give to them.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Jorge Valdivia, who coordinates the station’s volunteer program, said Hunnicutt — the only volunteer at the station to have reached the 10,000-hour plateau — provides invaluable perspective in addition to serving as the program’s de facto treasurer.
“She was there at the beginning, so when I had a question, I went to her,” Valdivia said. “She keeps me in check … I’ve been on board for the last five years, and she’s been involved in just about everything.”
At the event, Capt. David Silversparre, La Cañada City Councilman Mike Davitt and representatives for local legislators joined the heads of the La Cañada and La Crescenta chambers of commerce in thanking all the station’s volunteers and reserve deputies.
Also winning awards were Steve Cronkhite, captain of the station’s Explorer program for youth, and uniformed reserve officer Jon Halvorsen.
Halvorsen said that while at Los Angeles Police Department training this year he was told a law enforcement officer should not live in the community he or she polices to “avoid running into someone you just arrested at the supermarket.”
“But I wouldn’t want to work at any other station, and I wouldn’t want to live in any other community,” he said.
The Montrose Search and Rescue team also honored volunteers Wednesday night. Doug Cramoline received the Golden Piton award for responding to the most calls; Janet Henderson received the Silver Microphone award for handling the most public relations requests; and Fred Wenzel received the Search and Rescue Reserve of the Year award.
In addition, rescue team reserve captain Mike Leum was honored with the lifetime achievement Silver Figure Eight award for having responded to 750 calls.
Silversparre said the volunteers put in more than 20,000 hours at the Crescenta Valley station this year, saving the county around half a million dollars.
“We couldn’t run the station properly without them,” he said. “All of you help us get over the hump to make this the best station and safest community.”