As part of our Community Policing philosophy and commitment to our community it was decided that one of the ways we could further partner with our citizens was to bring them into the office on a monthly basis and share information with them and they could share information with us.
In early 1998 we set up our first citizens’ meeting. A core citizens group who helped with our Community Policing Plan came together again to form the group known as ACT NOW. This new group began meeting on a monthly basis in the training room of the Gerrish Police Building. Each month we put on a different program for our citizen’s group.
The new group elected its first officers. Original elected Officers were: Co-Chair Maggie Soltman and Al Schultz, Secretary Julie Hill, Treasurer Shari Patchin. This group served for a number of years. These were the tough years of getting the group going, but these individuals stuck to it and watched ACT NOW live and grow!
It wasn’t long before we outgrew our Police Department training room. The last couple of meetings we tried to have there resulted in many people unable to get into the room to both see and hear the program. At this point the Gerrish Township Board offered the Township Hall meeting room to accommodate the group’s monthly meetings. We have met there ever since.
Since its inception, ACT NOW has continued to grow and has become more financially stable. In our first years, ACT NOW received a couple of community grants to help see it through the tough starting up times. The group now has become quite stable in size and because of that ACT NOW takes on various community projects.
ACT NOW’s biggest project has been assisting the Police Department with the annual Shop With A Cop Program.
ACT NOW has raised money in various ways. The group holds an annual golf outing, large item raffles and other various events throughout the year to assist in raising a considerable amount of money for various projects the group has taken on.
The ACT NOW group also purchases Neighborhood Watch signs for each new group and pays the installation fees for the signs. Currently there are 34 established neighborhood watch areas throughout Gerrish Township.
ACT NOW formed a sub group called Helping Hands. This group has assisted elderly people who were unable to clean up their property due to poor health. ACT NOW purchased a utility trailer which is used in clean up projects and is located behind the police department from mid-April to mid-October each year for our Scrap Metal Project.
Year 2004 found the ACT NOW group taking on another important community project. This new venture was called CERT. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. CERT was born from the Homeland Security Act. Its purpose is to train and equip local citizens to assist themselves, their family and finally their community in time of need. Today over thirty Gerrish Township citizens have completed the CERT training and are certified. Our CERT group assists the Roscommon County Emergency Management Director, the Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department, area CERT teams, and both the Gerrish Township Police and Gerrish Township Fire/EMS Departments and assist with down power line watches until Consumers Energy could make them safe, community event crowd control and traffic safety. They are also trained in search and rescue, first aid, incident command system, fire safety and disaster preparedness.
One of the newest programs ACT NOW has taken on is to provide the Gerrish Township Police Department with emergency housing vouchers which will allow Gerrish Officers to find one night housing for individuals who are in our area and due to circumstances find themselves in our community without finances or lodging. This will be a big help to our officers in the middle of the night when they have exhausted all avenues open to them.
It is easy to see the ACT NOW group has developed into a strong citizens group ready to lend a hand when needed to assist our citizens in making Gerrish Township a better place to live and work.