January 23, 2024
It is now 2024 and I am once again serving as President for the Alumni Association this year. I thank you for the vote of confidence to lead this amazing group onward this year, and since my last blog was July 31, 2023, I will try to fill in the blanks for the remainder of 2023.
Jack Diamond, Marketing and Fundraising Chairman, presented the Million Dollar Loteria Raffle at the July meeting which would serve as our fall fundraiser. The three winners whose names were drawn on October 2nd, had the opportunity to win up to one million dollars, plus a $50 VISA gift card. Each of the winners won more than $150 by scratching off the twenty-five $25 Loteria raffle tickets they were given, but unfortunately none of them were able to claim a one million dollar prize. We sold 721 raffle tickets, which generated us a net profit of $10,941. Many thanks to those of you who purchased raffle tickets, sold tickets to friends and relatives, and a special thanks to those of you who were ticket sellers at the various selling locations over the hot summer months. In 2023, our total fundraising efforts generated a net profit of $20,206. As Jack always says, “It takes ALL OF US”, so thanks again to all of you!
In July, our Secretary, Delta Kirchner, and her husband sold their home in San Marcos and relocated to Johnson City. Despite still being fully employed, Delta took on the Secretary position for 2023 and did a wonderful job. However, now living in Blanco County, and still working, it had become difficult for her to attend our monthly meetings. She asked if it were possible to find a replacement to complete her unexpired term as Secretary and MaryAnn Parker graciously accepted the nomination. A huge thanks to MaryAnn for her awesome job taking the minutes and sending out the SignUp Genius volunteer requests for the last few months of 2023.
The current membership voted to table a possible HCSO history showcase for the front lobby of the PSB at this time. We did purchase a couple of large artificial plants to sit on either side of the current lobby trophy case to spruce up the focal point when you enter the building. We are now looking into purchasing a climate controlled CONEX cargo container in place of the two storage units that the Alumni and HCSO Community Outreach are currently renting monthly. These two storage units hold the three large grills we use for our cheeseburger plate fundraisers each year, all the supplies for our cooking and food serving, plus supplies for Brown Santa and The Sunshine Kids. The first step before we can move ahead with a possible purchase is to secure a location where this CONEX could be connected to power. This is an ongoing project that we have set as a funding priority in 2024.
The Sheriff’s Office held two Citizens Academies in 2023 (spring and fall) and the Alumni sponsored graduation parties at the PSB for both classes upon the completion of each academy. A majority of the students from each academy became members of the Alumni and we were thrilled to add them to our ever growing list of members and look forward to getting to know these new members as this year progresses.
The Holiday Lock-Up on December 1st at the Government Center to benefit the Brown Santa Program was a roaring success this year, bringing in the largest amount of funds ever collected due to the big number of “lock-ups” and the bonds that were set. The Alumni funds the cost of the luncheon for this event every year, and also acts as the servers. Italian Garden made the wonderful pasta dishes and rolls, Texas Roadhouse provided the delicious garden salad, and Palmer’s green beans were such a hit, we ran out! Thanks to all of you who were involved in the days’ fun activities.
Once HCSO Community Outreach secured the warehouse for Brown Santa to operate out of this year, many of the alumni assisted in cleaning, organizing, and sorting toys to prepare for the big gift wrapping day on Saturday, December 9th. The amount of people who show up to give of their time and talents each year to wrap all these gifts is truly amazing. The warehouse literally turns into Santa’s Workshop for a few hours, and the excitement among all the “elves” is palpable. Many volunteers were called into service the following Saturday, December 16th to assist in the distribution of all the wrapped gifts and bags of food. Twenty-six teams were created to deliver to 525 families this year, with over 1,700 children, making this year the largest number of families ever served. A rousing applause to every person who donated their time, talent, and/or funds to assist with this program.
After 36 years of service with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Dennis Gutierrez retired on December 29th. The Community Outreach Secretary, Irene Hernandez also retired that day after 17 years of service with HCSO. A lovely retirement reception was held at the PSB on December 28th to celebrate these two retirees. At that time, Lt. Gutierrez was presented with a soft-sided gun case, gift card to Cabela’s, and also a gift card for the restaurant TasTe on Main, thanks to generous donations from Alumni members. We wish Lt. Gutierrez and Miss Irene a very well deserved retirement!
In place of our December meeting, we held our annual Holiday Social at Ivar’s River Pub on Tuesday, December 12th. There were 33 in attendance – both Alumni members and guests, who got to know some of our newest members, enjoyed some good food and drink, and participate in a gift exchange. All in all, I believe a fun evening was had by all.
Lastly, I would like to remind everyone of some important facts during this upcoming political season. Many of you will want to start supporting your local politician by attending events, working polls, and numerous other ways to express to others who you believe is the best candidate. Please remember, the HCCSAAA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and as such, we are restricted against supporting any political candidate. I know none of you wants to be responsible for our organization losing its nonprofit status with the IRS, so please be aware of these policies and rules:
- You are welcome to support and attend any support function of any candidate of your choice, however you need to do that as an individual. Please do not introduce yourself in a way that is construed as your membership in HCCSAAA is endorsing a political candidate.
- Please do not wear any HCCSAAA apparel while attending any political function, working polls, political fundraisers, or anything else specifically supporting a candidate. Do not mix political support items with your Alumni apparel – we cannot wear a political hat, patch, shirt, jacket, lanyard, or anything similar while wearing HCCSAAA apparel items such as our shirt or Alumni ID badge.
I would like to express my thanks again for all your support, dedication, and time during 2023 to promote and enhance the Hays County Citizens Sheriff’s Academy Alumni Association. I look forward to another very productive, educational, and exciting year in 2024 as we all work together to continue to strengthen our commitment specifically to HCSO and it’s projects, but also to all law enforcement within Hays County. If you haven’t been an Alumni member before, or if you have let your membership lapse (many did during COVID), consider joining forces with a hard working, dedicated, fun volunteer group and contact either myself or our Treasurer, Gary Anderson (email@example.com or 512-393-7792 PSB office #) to pay your annual $20