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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. - photo by Photo Contributed

2011 Senior Award Winners

·         District 1: Dawn Mensinger of Riverbank

Mensinger has been actively involved with Doctors Medical Center’s Volunteer Service League for 26 years, logging over 25,000 volunteer hours. She has been a DMC Foundation board member for 17 years. She was a member of the McHenry Museum, has volunteered for the American Cancer Society and Stockton Junior Aid, and was a 4-H leader.

·         District 3: Maggie Mejia of Modesto

Mejia has been a member of the King-Kennedy Memorial Center Board of Directors for 16 years. She has been a member of the VFW Women’s Auxiliary Post 5059 in Turlock for the past 15 years. She was a charter member of the Latino Community Roundtable and has served on the board of directors since then. She is a member of the Hispanic Leadership Council, St. Stanislaus Catholic Church Health Ministry, Mujeres Latinas de Stanislaus, Stanislaus County Commission on Aging, United Way board of directors, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, Girl Scouts Muir Trail Council board of directors and American GI Forum.

·         District 4: Myrtle Osner of Modesto

Osner has been involved in the California League of Women Voters since the 1960s. She was a founding member of the College Avenue Congregational Church and has been an active member of the Peace Life Center for over 20 years. She is a member of the City of Modesto’s Recycling Committee, Bicycle Safety Committee and Ecology Action Committee. She was also a Girl Scout leader for 10 years.

·         District 5: Dave Santos of Patterson

Santos serves as the Master of Ceremonies for the Miss Patterson Contest, something he has done for the past 15 years. He is president of the Patterson Recognizing Individuals Determined to Excel Scholarship Board. He serves as co-chair for Project HOPE (Helping Our People Eat) for the Westside Food Pantry. He is a member of HOST (Helping Others Sleep Tonight), Westside-Patterson Alliance for the Community and Environment board, Patterson High School Ag Advising Committee and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Patterson. He is a Patterson Unified School Board member and was a 4-H leader for 10 years.

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.