By Eric Burk
SAFFORD – The Safford Police Department hosted the second annual Community Organized Resource Event (CORE) at Firth Park on Saturday. Organized by Officer Sherri O’Neal, the event brought together around 30 community service providers and local citizens, who enjoyed free hot dogs, raffle prizes and 80-degree weather.
Organizations present ranged from the Graham County Rehabilitation Center and the Arizona Children’s Association to the Safford-City Graham County Library. Attendees visited individual booths and spoke with representatives to learn about various programs. At the Safford Human Resources booth, HR officer Cliff Davis remarked, “This isn’t just a Safford thing, it’s for the whole county.”
Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman noted that they worked to have a broad cross section of community services present to empower citizens to find solutions for issues as varied as utility billing and mental health needs.
“We try to bring everything into one place to answer those questions for everyone, and also to get a chance to meet everyone,” Brugman said.
Hosting it at the park was new this year, and O’Neal worked to make sure the event was family friendly.
“There’s plenty of things for kids to do; they can see the firetrucks and the ambulance; they can go play in the park,” O’Neal said. “It lets people also know that we still have a park here in town that they can come to.”
Children climbed into emergency response vehicles and wore a firefighter’s suit. The jail’s Tactical Response Unit brought some of their less-than-lethal weapons, and kids tried on the riot gear.
As attendees blasted the firetruck’s horn, Brugman periodically drew raffle tickets and handed out prizes. While wearing a mask to simulate impaired vision, children pedaled a cart provided by the Graham County Substance Abuse Committee. Ultimate Bounce provided a bounce house, cotton candy and popcorn. The Lions Club tested vision for attendees, warning them to see an eye doctor if necessary.
The park was filled with organizations and community members. O’Neal said the vendors were pleased with the turnout, which was higher than last year, in part due to better advertising, which included a preview article with Gila Valley Central. The police department advertised the event to the community, inviting organizations to volunteer to be present. Hot dogs and buns were donated by Walmart, drinks were provided by Coke and Pepsi, and the police department donated the raffle prizes.
O’Neal said the police department is already thinking about next year. Brugman said the department would host CORE annually as long as the community was willing to attend.