To police, volunteer shredder 'part of the team'
Lynnwood police rely on Michael Farrar to dispose of sensitive papers
He reports at the front desk, on time and ready for work. He gets started on his assignment -- shredding papers for the department during his two-hour stint as a volunteer every Monday and Wednesday.
The fact that Farrar volunteers his time is remarkable. What makes him extraordinary is the fact that the 65-year-old, who lives in a group home, is a person with multiple cognitive, learning and developmental disabilities.
Simply getting to Lynnwood poses a physical challenge.
Farrar comes to Lynnwood through Work Opportunities' community-access program. The nonprofit concentrates on helping people with disabilities transition into independent living.
Most days, Farrar begins his work with stacks of documents from the police department's old archive. He consciously works his way through the papers, precisely feeding sheets through the shredder. Because of the sensitive and sometimes classified nature of the documents, they require being destroyed before recycling.
Farrar proudly wears his volunteer Explorer badge on his department-issued shirt. He has worked with the Lynnwood Police Department for three years.
"I live here and I like to help," Farrar said. "I like to be here around the officers and wear a uniform. There is a lot I have to remember. I need help changing the bag out."
Lynnwood police Cadet Deryck Hartford helps Farrar with that task.
"He sure does his job," Hartford said. "What he does may seem small, but it helps keep the department running and helps the clerks."
"Michael considers himself as a police officer and part of the team," said Jovan Bishop, a community support specialist with Lynnwood-based Work Opportunities.
Work Opportunities provides job placement and vocational services for the disabled in Snohomish, King and Whatcom counties. It was started in 1963 by a group of parents who were concerned about what their children would do once they graduated from the Edmonds School District's then-newly developed special education program.
The organization helps people with disabilities make the transition from being dependent on others to contributing in the community by finding jobs, some paid and some volunteer.
The group's focus on work is not by accident, Bishop said. Work broadens Work Opportunities customers' social network and teaches transferable skills.
For more information, contact Work Opportunities at www.workopportunities.org or 425-778-2156.
National Volunteer Week
An estimated 63 million Americans volunteer to help other people.
This is National Volunteer Week, when many organizations, including those in Snohomish County, honor volunteers.
For people who want to volunteer, a good place to start is with United Way of Snohomish County at www.uwsc.org or American Red Cross, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Dreams: A Celebration of Abilities'
What: Work Opportunities dinner and auction, celebrating 49 years of service for persons with disabilities
When: 5:30-9:30 p.m. June 21
Where: Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, Lynnwood
More info: www.workopportunities.org or 425-778-2156
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