Joanie Jones is enjoying retirement – but that doesn’t mean the Denver, Colorado resident has hit the pause button on building her skill set. To the contrary, Joanie, whose decades-long service has focused on health and education, decided that when she saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a volunteer role with the local police department, she’d apply, simply because she wanted to learn more.
Serving as a volunteer for the Denver Police Department since 1998, Joanie is the department’s longest-standing volunteer. Working with Sex Offender Registry detectives, Joanie supports the police with case filings, which are critical to their jobs and the court process. Known as a volunteer who dedicates her time joyfully and enthusiastically, Joanie has dedicated more than 3,000 hours of service to the police department thus far.
What inspires you to volunteer?
It inspires me to know that in a small way, I’m doing something that contributes to a bigger cause. I’ve always thought that we need to look for similarities, and not just differences. It’s more beneficial to look for similarities, whether it’s a smile or holding out your hand to help. A lot of us can give our time, and it’s neat to have some fun volunteering along the way.
Describe your role with the Denver Police Department.
I work in the sex offender registry records room, and am the longest-standing volunteer at the Denver Police Department. When I first heard there was an opening in this department, I asked what it was about, and I was told the cops are tough. I worked with surgeons for 40 years throughout my career, no one’s tougher than surgeons in an operating room. My volunteerism includes pulling reports for police and case filings. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s important to the detectives, because they don’t have to waste time fumbling around for a chart when I am there to help. They need these records for court, so my service is a piece of the bigger whole.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
In addition to my volunteerism with the Denver Police Department, I also volunteer at a local animal shelter, and once a week at the Denver Veterans Hospital where I visit patients. When you’re visiting with the former soldiers, they’ll often say, ‘Thank you ma’am’. I once walked into a room, and a WWII POW started telling me about how he’d been taken a prisoner of war. He said he’d never told his family most of the details he was then telling me, how they didn’t have much to eat, talking to me about kamikazes and Okinawa. At the end, he said to me, ‘Thank you ma’am, for your service,’ and that just took me to my knees, because I felt as though I should have been saying thank you to him! Here was a 90-year-old who’d been taken prisoner while protecting our country, and all I did was listen. When he took me by the hand and thanked me for my service, it meant he was glad to have someone who was interested in him.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
Volunteerism means we leave behind hope and friendship. Service is building bridges, person-to-person. Not on a big scale, but one-to-one.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
Mother Teresa said service to others is the price we pay for the space we occupy. That’s what I think about the reward of service. I am taking my time and giving it to someone else.
How have you adjusted your service as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The City of Denver paused our volunteerism at the police department for almost three months. I just resumed my volunteerism in August, but I’m still waiting to resume service at the VA. I was able to continue my volunteerism at the MaxFund Animal Adoption Center shelter in Denver throughout the pandemic.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
Contribution. Being able to make a contribution. There are things that are bigger than me in life, and through service, we expand our life experience.
How can readers help?
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Joanie Jones? Find local volunteer opportunities.