SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE

Sun Cities Posses leave generational legacies

Service handed down in families

Posted 9/14/21

Volunteers span across several organizations in the Sun Cities.

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SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE

Sun Cities Posses leave generational legacies

Service handed down in families

Posted

Volunteers span across several organizations in the Sun Cities.

Generations of volunteers at both the Sun City Posse and Sun City West Posse kept the act of service in the family.

Jan Vejraska has been a volunteer for the Sun City West Posse for 23 years and said this is the first time the organization has had three second-generation posse members active at the same time.

Chuck Campbell joined the Posse in 2019, following after his father Howard Campbell who served from 1994 until 2009. His jobs included vacation watch, patrol and a duty officer with the rank of lieutenant. According to Vejraska, a credenza located in a meeting room at Posse headquarters was built by Howard.

Chuck said he decided to join the Posse after attending a flea market in the Posse parking lot and learning more about the organization.

“I knew about the Posse from my dad talking about it for many years. He also gave Jan (Vejraska) her first training ride,” he said.

He said part of the appeal of the Posse is helping others and hearing nice things from neighbors. People who know Chuck is a Posse volunteer often come to him with questions. He said he enjoys working with the Posse and has a lot of fun.

Kevin Rufalo joined the Sun City West Posse in 2015, following his father as well, which is the same reason he moved to Sun City West. His father, Les Rufalo, joined the Posse in 1989 and left in April 2001. His duties including a fund drive and scheduling officer, as well as patrol and vacation watch.

While Kevin said his dad did not go into much detail about his time with the Posse he was under the impression the top Posse members were paid, while everyone else volunteered. He learned later he was mistaken. Vejraska jokingly pointed out after once serving as commander, she did not get paid.

“I remember your father as a scheduling officer being in the scheduling room. At that time we had four shifts and ran 24 hours shifts, 365 days a year,” she explained.

Back then there were 230 volunteers and the operation was much larger.  Thousands of houses were on vacation watch and that made for a lot work by the Posse volunteers. Vejraska said with so many people it was often difficult to get a shift at that time.

David Black joined the Sun City West Posse and became a volunteer just as the pandemic hit and the Posse was forced to close down. His father, Will Black, joined the Posse in 2000 and resigned in 2008 prior to major back surgery. David was a police officer in Texas for eight years then went to work for the Naval Criminal Investigation Service. He said he likes the Posse because it is a good way to help others and to see the relief people get if they are confused or concerned about something.

“They can reach out to us and we can use all the resources we have and it is nice to see even the posture of the person you are helping change when you are there,” he explained.

Vejraska  did the final check ride with David, who mentioned he knew her. It turns out she spoke at his father’s funeral. She said she loved his mom and dad both and was shocked to learn she spoke at his funeral and then she was riding along with his son. David said he remembers his father telling him to hang up his shield and retire and come out and serve on the Posse where people really appreciate the acts of service.

After his time in law enforcement making the transition to the Posse and seeing the appreciation, as well as Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Posse working like a seamless support network for the community makes all the difference.

“It was important for me to give back to the community and getting engaged after my 35 year career in law enforcement, it is hard to hang up your shield. So it is nice to give back in a different capacity. We are not law enforcement, but we are a shield and people recognize that and appreciate it,” David explained.

The Sun City West Posse averages about 1,000 phones calls per month from Sun City West residents. The Posse volunteers are always looking for things that do not look right or other things like broken sprinklers or open garage door patrol and that brings a sense of safety and community to individuals.

The Sun City Posse also shares a long family tie.

Dispatcher Maggie Griswold has been serving the community in the Posse since 2016. She and her husband, Phil Griswold, joined the Posse together. Her parents, Dick and Ann Miller, served on the Sun City Posse from 1989 to 2009. Ann was also a dispatcher and Dick was a duty officer, certified to carry a firearm. Griswold also helps with scheduling and the fund drive and spends about 12 hours per week giving back to the Posse.

“We have a board and a commander and a lot of hours are put in by different volunteers,” she said.

Everyone in the building comes from different places where they all had careers and are able to give back using those skills to get whatever needs to be done to serve the people in Sun City. Dave Miller, Sun City Posse commander, said Maggie plays an important role on the Posse support staff as a dispatcher.

“I am very proud to continue the legacy of my parents. They were World War II veterans and this was a perfect fit for them. So knowing what they did, I wanted to do it too. It just felt right,” she explained.

It feels great to know the impact the organization has helping everyone in Sun City, Griswold said. She said some people can be intimated by the thought of calling the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, but knowing they have a place to call like the Posse makes for more comfortability and willingness to communicate with someone they are more familiar with.

Visit suncityposse.org or scwposse.org to become a volunteer.

Reach the reporter at jjimenez@iniusa.org.

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