The Soyka Story Part 5!
Hello Followers, Supporters and Friends. This week as part of my on going story to let you all know more about me, I am going to switch gears and talk about my giving back to the community and being part of the community we all live in. Part of my philosophy is to give back and I feel by volunteering and being part of something bigger is important. By volunteering for certain things and certain groups, I think I have a small part in making the community we live in a better place.
When I was 12 I started my volunteerism by working at the Tri-County Humane Society walking dogs and cleaning up after the animals. I remained there for 4 years until my high school life got too busy to continue. Today I now attend the annual fundraiser as a way to give back to the group. I also was a Boy Scout and obtained my Eagle Scout badge through a volunteer project in which I organized our troop to clean up a park and fix park buildings. I became an explorer to learn about the career of law enforcement and though this came more opportunities to give back to the community. As an explorer we helped many cities in Stearns County with traffic control at their annual city parades and worked many other activities that helped the Stearns County world. This helped to solidify my thoughts on how good giving back is.
I am involved in the community in many various aspects which include being a member of St Stephen Catholic church, a member of the Pantowners Auto Club, and a member of the St Cloud Area Pistol Shooting Association. I walk in the annual Alzheimers fundraiser walk held in the fall and volunteer for the downtown gym and fitness at various events that raise funds for the youth of the St. Cloud area. I am also a member of the St. Stephen Lions Club and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club in St. Cloud. I like what both these organizations do and how they give back to and benefit the communities we live in.
I am the Vice President of our local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge, made up of officers from numerous local, county, and state agencies. The FOP volunteers for many different things in the communities we live in and has close ties with the Special Olympics group. As a volunteer with FOP our group has setup and worked the Special Olympics Polar Plunge for the past 12 years. I, along with others, also just started this year bringing back the Torch Run with other law enforcement across the state being a part of bringing the torch to the Twin Cities for their annual Olympic games. This is an incredible opportunity to give back to the athletes involved in this event and the community as a whole. The FOP also helps out officers and their families in times of distress and need including purchasing tourniquets for agencies that could not normally afford them to give to officers on the street to save themselves or others if need be.
I volunteer with many others from the Sheriff’s Office with the explorer program as an advisor. I feel it is important to give back to the program that helped me decide on a career in law enforcement and to give back to the kids and help them decide if this is the career for them. We volunteer on Sunday nights and at other events teaching the kids about law enforcement and this allows them to work events in the community and to ride along with deputies. This is a very good opportunity for the kids to fast forward them into the world of law enforcement. We recruit new members every August for the school year so if you know any kids interested in law enforcement feel free to call the Sheriff Office or stop down and get an application for the explorer program!
I volunteer for the Whitney Senior Center Advisory Board as a way to give back to the seniors in our community. This was a position that I felt was important to get involved in as our Seniors are a large group in the community and I wanted to make sure they are heard and have their needs filled at the Senior Center. I applied for this position as I felt it was important and was appointed by St. Cloud Mayor Kleis to a 3 year term which has recently started. I have stopped at the Senior Center to talk with members which is very enjoyable and they provide some very good insight into what affects them in the community.
Lastly, I volunteer as the coordinator of the Sartell Drug Free Coalition which is comprised of a members of the school, community, students and law enforcement. This coalition’s goal is to educate the kids of the Sartell School district on the various dangers of substance abuse amongst many topics. Through this collaborative effort ( which I have spoken about before and do so on a regular basis) we can hopefully educate others on the topics and as a end result make the community a better place.
With all this community involvement one would wonder when I find the time to campaign and I can tell you it is a balancing act but it is rewarding and I do make the time for it. As you Sheriff I will continue with this community involvement and will highly encourage our employees to get involved in some capacity in programs or groups that benefit the community. I believe that we are members of the community and it is important to have that connection to the people we serve besides just being their law enforcement. Through this working together we can make where we live and all of Stearns County a better and safer place to be.