Employee honored by Dallas Police for community volunteer work

By Jan Jarvis

Linda Flores

Linda Flores is a familiar face at the finish line of community marathons, where she helps overheated runners cool off with ice packs and water bottles.

But recently, the UT Southwestern Medical Center employee was honored for braving the heat herself. Instead of running in a race, she logged long hours walking neighborhoods to conduct surveys for the Dallas Police Department.

“I spent every Saturday and Wednesday night going door to door,” said Mrs. Flores, a clinical research study coordinator at the Department of Pediatrics ICU. “It was really hot, and a lot of volunteers didn’t come back after the first week. But I never got tired. I was too excited.”

Several months after completing the volunteer work, Mrs. Flores received a letter from the Police Department.

“At first I thought it was a traffic ticket,” she said.

It turned out to be an invitation to an awards ceremony. In May, Mrs. Flores received a Citizen’s Certificate of Merit from the Police Department. The award, given five to 10 times annually, recognizes those who exemplify excellence in the performance of civic responsibility, show devotion to the community, and bring honor to themselves and recognition to the city of Dallas.

In Mrs. Flores’ case, her hard work conducting a Police Community Engagement Survey did not go unnoticed.

Over six weeks in the summer of 2011, she conducted more than 400 surveys to help Dallas Police understand the community’s perception of crime in their neighborhoods and any concerns. The survey results will be used to improve police service and reduce crime.

Dallas Police Lt. Mark Stallo said Mrs. Flores was among volunteers committed to seeing the large undertaking through to its end.

“Mrs. Flores is very committed to the community and was anxious to volunteer her time,” he said. “She was willing to conduct surveys for hours at a time, even with temperatures over 100 degrees.”

Although she worked in crime-ridden neighborhoods, Mrs. Flores said she was never afraid. Most people were very friendly, and the police officers were nearby to make sure nothing went wrong, she said. Most of all, she knew the survey would make a difference to the community.

Volunteer work is nothing new to Mrs. Flores. She’s well-known for working at hundreds of runs, health fairs, and other events. She also devotes her free time to working with at-risk high school students.

“Most every weekend I’m up by 4 a.m. to get ready for a walk somewhere,” she said. “Whatever walk there is that weekend, I volunteer to set everything up.”

Mrs. Flores, who is from Brazil, said that as much as she enjoys her work at UTSW, volunteering has its own rewards. The pleasure that comes with volunteering is a message she tries to get across to high school students.

“It brings you joy to do things that you know you don’t have to,” she said.