Senior Volunteer Patrol loses last founding member
Last updated 11/12/2021 at 11:19am
One of the favorite tasks of members of the Sheriff's Senior Volunteer Patrol is calling or visiting seniors in the community in the You Are Not Alone program. YANA was designed by volunteers at the substation in Fallbrook to check on the safety or condition of seniors who need monitoring because they have no nearby family.
Joe Fahey, the last surviving member of the founders of the Senior Volunteer Patrol, passed on Oct. 6 at the age of 93.
During Fahey's final years, the tables turned, and the Fallbrook volunteers would check on him," said Bob Cebulski, who has been a volunteer for 16 years. "Joe was always someone we loved to visit with," Cebulski said. "He was so friendly and appreciated our calls and visits."
Fahey helped start the Fallbrook SVP in 1995 and saw it spread as a countywide program with the Sheriff's Department. He's been honored by the County Sheriff for his role in establishing the patrol and his distinguished service in the years that followed. Fahey was also instrumental in starting the YANA program.
Memorial services were held Oct. 27 for Fahey, with all 30-plus current members of the Fallbrook substation's volunteer team in attendance.
Fahey was known for being consistent with his Wednesday patrols in Fallbrook until later handling many of the YANA phone calls.
Cebulski has served in the Senior Volunteer patrol since 2005 and recalls Fahey being quiet, humble and a friend to everyone.
"We do this just to be helpful, we don't do this to try to get acclaim or anything," said the humble Fahey at a luncheon five years ago honoring his service.
Fahey graduated from the substation's first academy for senior volunteers. The program has since been adopted countywide with a coordinator and two-week academy for new volunteers.
"We are the eyes for the deputy," Cebulski said. "With YANA, we call first, at the scheduled time. If no one answers, we'll ring the bell and check. If no one answers, we'll call for a deputy."
He said they never enter the house unless invited.
"We do all the 'grunt work' including errands, vacation checks and taking the cars in for service," Cebulski said. "We also fill in at the front desk and with traffic control on big accidents. It gives the deputies time for patrol and other duties."
The volunteer program ceased operating at the beginning of COVID-19, and when it resumed in April, it was at half strength. It's just now getting close to normal, Cebulski said, as seniors are getting over their fear.
"We're all fully vaccinated now," he added.
The volunteers must be age 55 or older. For information, call the substation at 760-451-3100.