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Turlocker earns accolades for community service

Turlocker earns accolades for community service

Turlock Police Chaplain Al Opdyke was named the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging's 2011 Senior Award Winner for District 2.

POSTED April 1, 2011 9:13 p.m.

When a crisis occurs and community members and law enforcement personnel are involved in traumatic situations they often need the emotional support of someone trained in mental health first aid and stress management. That is where Al Opdyke comes in.

As one of two Turlock Police Department volunteer chaplains, Opdyke is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide whatever support is needed in a critical incident. He responds to fatal car accidents, armed robberies and in-home deaths, as well as assisting local schools following critical incidents and providing confidential support and counsel to department employees.

For his service as a chaplain, as a founding member of the Turlock Police Department’s Volunteers in Police Service Program, and his work for Emanuel Medical Center’s suicide prevention and hospice programs, Opdyke was named the Stanislaus County Commission on Aging’s 2011 Senior Award Winner for District 2.

“I’m honored to be recognized in this way,” he said. “There is a large group of people who volunteer their service to Turlock and I’m really proud to be a part of that group.”

Opdyke moved to Turlock in 1971 with his wife Karen to serve as pastor of the Presbyterian Church. He raised three children in Turlock — Stacy Smith, a nurse at Emanuel Medical Center; Kelli Garcia, a teacher at Big Valley Grace School in Modesto; and Scott Opdyke, a teacher in Petaluma. After 21 years in Turlock, he moved to a church in San Jose where he served for six years. In 1998 he retired and moved back to Turlock.

In 2000, he was a member of the first class of the Turlock Police Department’s Volunteers on Patrol.  Soon after he began working with the police department, former Police Chief Lonald Lott asked Opdyke to become a chaplain.

“One chaplain was not enough to do the work,” Opdyke said.

Since then, he has counseled numerous residents and police officers during their most stressful times. Opdyke said he also appreciates the support the chaplain program has received from current Police Chief Gary Hampton.

Opdyke, along with the winners from the other four supervisorial districts will be recognized for their outstanding volunteer work by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors at their May 17 regular meeting. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the Board Chambers, 1010 10th St., Modesto.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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