Teens who made a profound impact on deputies recognized at school board meeting
On October 11, 2017, in the early days of one of California’s most devastating wildland fires, two Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Deputies (Joe Gordon and Stacy Friedrichs) took it upon themselves to gather new toys and fill an SUV after completing a long 10-hour shift. Deputies Joe Gordon, Stacy Friedrichs, and the Sheriff’s Community Impact Program’s Executive Director Mike Saigeon, drove from Sacramento to Napa Junior College – a location where one of the largest fire evacuation centers for the Napa/Sonoma fire complexes existed.
After arriving at around 8:00pm to a college gymnasium filled with hundreds of displaced families, the three deputies unloaded an SUV’S worth of new toys and proceeded to hand out the toys to approximately 75 children. For the children, It was a welcomed reprieve from the trauma caused by the chaos of having to flee from a fast-moving, destructive and deadly wildfire. Some of the children shared their harrowing stories with the deputies, which for a few of the children, included the complete loss of their home. Children as young as 4 or 5 years old appreciated the hot wheels or playdough and interestingly, the older ones clung onto teddy bears, presumably in an effort to seek out some sense of comfort in a great time of need.
While distributing the toys and other essentials, two students stepped up out of the crowd of children and selflessly placed themselves in a position to assist the deputies in handing out the toys to all the other children. The act was so profound, Deputy Stacy took note of their names and schools with the goal of later thanking them for their service in a time of crisis.
Just prior to the Winter break, Deputy Joe reached out to their respective school administrators to let them know about one of their own students stepping up to assist – these administrators were very excited to hear such good news. It was decided these students, both of whom attended schools in the City of Calistoga, would be recognized at a future Calistoga Joint Unified School District Board of Education meeting.
On Monday, January 8th, Deputy Joe and Mike Saigeon, attended the Calistoga Joint Unified School District board meeting and presented each student with a certificate signed by Sacramento County – Government Board of Supervisor Susan Peters. The goal was to recognize them for their selfless actions to help others during a time of crisis while celebrating their good deeds. It was also important to highlight the fact that young teens can – and do – make a positive difference in our world. In addition, each student was given a SCIP challenge coin and a $50 Target gift card.
It was a powerful moment in time being able to connect Sacramento County with the City of Calistoga – all thanks to two students, both of whom admittedly had no expectation of ever being recognized for their actions on October 11th.
Thank you, Supervisor Peters, for being a part of this wonderful experience for the students (and for Deputy Joe and Mike Saigeon). Big thanks also, to Calistoga Joint Unified School District for carving out some time during the meeting and allowing Deputy Joe and Mike to proudly introduce two of Calistoga’s finest students.
Photos taken by Paula Kleczkowski, Calistoga Joint Unified School District