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Volunteer wins presidential award

Dorit Forsythe receives high honor, local praise for her community service.

January 15, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
(Tim Berger )

A 77-year-old Glendale police volunteer who's logged more than 4,000 hours patrolling city streets, writing tickets and assisting officers now has a presidential award to show for it.

For the past 12 years, volunteer Dorit Forsythe has rarely missed a chance to go out on patrol, and for that, she earned the President's Lifetime Service Award.

"It was a tremendous surprise," she said.

The President Council on Service and Civic Participation was created in 2003 to identify volunteers who were making a difference in their communities. To receive the award, volunteers have to show continuous commitment to civic participation and a certain standard of service over a long period of time.

Police Chief Ron De Pompa presented Forsythe with the award, which was signed by President Obama, at a ceremony Wednesday.

"We don't take your service and sacrifice lightly," he told Forsythe. "We think it's an absolute mandatory component of our policing philosophy here."

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Forsythe also received certificates from numerous local government officials, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank).

Forsythe can always been seen on her weekly patrols sporting an "immaculately pressed" uniform, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

"Her dedication is admirable and exemplary," he said.

Before she began volunteering with the Police Department, Forsythe worked in the banking industry and retired in 1986. Then she and her daughter opened a coffee shop.

Forsythe said she started her work in community service in 1997 as a way to keep her mind off her husband's death.

"I was still feeling very depressed, and then I said "I gotta get busy,'" she said.

And get busy she did, with community service at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Then the Joslyn Adult Center in Burbank linked her with the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol program at the Glendale Police Department.

Along with going out on patrol, some of Forsythe's most valuable work comes through paying visits to several senior women who are homebound.

She also helps some homebound seniors with their daily chores. She runs their errands, takes them to doctors, helps them shower and dress and organizes and pays their bills.

"I want to do something for somebody who appreciates and really needs it," Forsythe said.

On Friday, Forsythe spent the day with an 83-year-old blind Eagle Rock woman. She visits the woman two or three times a week.

In some cases, Forsythe is the only family that the seniors have, and is left with the responsibility of taking care of their property after they die.

She has had to plan burial services and sell furniture for some of her deceased clients.

Forsythe sees her duties as a calling.

"It's just kind of natural for me," she said.

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