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At the Buddhist Temple for Formal Inspection is the 550 Senior Volunteer Unit, who support the California Highway Patrol Area 550, based in Santa Fe Springs. The non-profit is seeking financial support for uniforms and equipment for their volunteers who help and assist the CHP in many vital ways in cities including La Mirada, Cerritos, Pico Rivera and Hawaiian Gardens.

October 28, 2023

By Laurie Hanson

Helping law enforcement create safer communities, a unique group of senior volunteers in Santa Fe Springs seeks the public’s support to continue their vital work.

The 550 Senior Volunteers support between 90 and 110 CHP Officers serving the communities of all 19 service areas assigned to the Santa Fe Springs Area including Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, La Habra Heights, South Whittier, West Whittier (unincorporated), North Whittier, Commerce, Pico Rivera, Downey, La Mirada, Santa Fe Springs, Norwalk, Bellflower, Hawaiian Gardens, Cerritos, Artesia, Lakewood, Paramount, and North Long Beach at the 405. 

As a non-profit public benefit corporation doing fundraising, they support CHP charities such as CHiPs for Kids and the Special Olympics.

But they must wear uniforms, and neither the state nor the CHP will pay for them.

Out of a sincere desire to promote and participate in the public service programs authorized by the local California Highway Patrol (CHP) Area, 550 wants to raise more than $25,000 by June 30, 2024 to keep their volunteers equipped and in uniform.  

“The cost of those uniforms has risen over the past four years to about $800 per volunteer, including sales tax,” explained 550 Senior Volunteer Unit President Harry Jacobs. “We need to purchase [them for] the performance of duties and to fully participate in the charitable programs of the CHP, including “CHiPs 4 Kids.”

“Our current project is to raise $25,000 to cover the cost of uniforms and equipment required by the 30 CHP Senior Volunteers serving or who will be serving at the Santa Fe Springs Area Office,” he added. [We hope] to achieve this through donations from service and employee clubs, organizations, businesses, and individuals.

“The CHP does not fund the cost of uniforms, personal protection equipment (PPE), or third-party liability coverage for any of its Senior Volunteers,” Jacobs explained. “However, Area Commanders issue Senior Volunteers two-way radios, reflective traffic vests, flashlights, a self-tourniquet, and rain gear on an as-needed basis.”

The 550 Senior Volunteer Unit provides support as a “force-multiplier” for data entry, data retrieval, public affairs, auto-service, and maintenance. They also assist with ambulance and tow truck inspections, provide proctors for school bus driver testing, and help with traffic control at accident scenes. 

They also provide emergency responses along with Special Duty Support, including in hit-and-run investigations and tracking along with vehicle registration violations. 

They also provide clerical and administrative support, accident record processing, and more. According to Jacobs, all of this is done voluntarily without compensation for their assistance.

“Senior Volunteers are expected to cover their own costs associated with the program [while serving as] CHP Senior Volunteers in administrative and field operations,” he said.

Jacobs explained how the 550 Senior Volunteers Unit got its name.

“The California Highway Patrol is administratively divided into Divisions and Areas,” he said. “The Divisions are geographically named, and the Areas are identified by the city in which they are located and a 3-digit number. Santa Fe Springs Area is 550 and is in the Southern Division.” 

Though about 90 of the Areas in California have a Senior Volunteer Unit, less than 25 of them have created a separate unit as a non-profit, according to Jacobs.

“For the record, some Senior Volunteer Units have recruited retired CHP Personnel as members, but we have not,” he added.

The age of 550 Senior Volunteers range from 55 to 85 years old, with the current minimum age being 55. Their volunteers are from Hacienda Heights, Whittier, Whittier unincorporated, Santa Fe Springs, La Mirada, Downey, El Monte, Artesia, and Cerritos.

““We are authorized to have up to 25 volunteers,” he said. “The Unit [now] has 12 volunteers with 7 candidates going through the Background Investigation process and DOJ/FBI Records Check. If all pass, the Unit will have 19 members.”

If you, your club, organization, or business wishes to donate, please make checks payable to the “550 Senior Volunteer Unit” and send them to 10051 Orr and Day Road, Santa Fe Springs, California 90670. Individuals can also contribute through ZELLE® using the QR Code below for the 550 Senior Volunteer Unit.

Donate to the 550 SENIOR VOLUNTEER UNIT is a Non-profit Public Benefit Corporation FEIN: 92-3724125 using the Zelle QR Code below.

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