On many days, Michael Pulaski can be found volunteering inside the West Pasco Judicial Center doing whatever duties are asked of him. Other times, he’ll help Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies with traffic control.
When it isn’t too hot, he will sometimes change into a McGruff the Crime Dog outfit and perform for children.
Pulaski, a retired member of the New York Department of Sanitation, was given the President’s Lifetime Service Award on Monday afternoon during the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer in Police Service Recognition Luncheon at Spartan Manor.
Since he began volunteering with the sheriff’s office in 2004, Pulaski has amassed more then 4,000 volunteer hours. The VIPS program was created in 2002 by President George W. Bush in an effort to encourage citizens to help their communities, neighbors and country through volunteering.
“I was a sanitation policeman up in New York. I got broken in at Yankees Stadium with the crowds,” Pulaski said. “I know crowd control, but I love people. I love dealing with the public. That’s what got me involved.”
Before volunteering with the sheriff’s office, Pulaski spent about three years at Schrader Elementary School in Port Richey, teaching kindergartners through second-graders how to read and do math.
“I enjoy helping the public,” he said. “Being a policeman up in New York City, that’s what I did. I loved helping people with questions or whatever.”
Pulaski and his wife, Barbara, each also received the Gold Presidential Service Award for logging more than 500 volunteer hours in 2012.
Monday’s event honored 169 volunteers who have donated between 100 and 1,000 hours of service in 2012. In all, more than 300 people donated more than 69,000 hours to the sheriff’s office, which equates to $1.5 million in contributions, according to the sheriff’s office.
“A sign of how important you are to the sheriff’s office is how intertwined you are, and I keep saying that we fight as one,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said. “But it’s so true in the fact that you deserve so much credit because our operation could not succeed if you were not here.
“That’s how important it is. We could not succeed if you were not with us.”
In addition to people receiving awards in the bronze, silver and gold categories, others were singled out for top recognition.
Michael DeMatteo was named 2012 Citizen Service Unit Patrol Volunteer of the Year; Robert Nagle was the 2012 Parking Enforcement Volunteer of the Year; Barbara Pulaski was the 2012 Uniformed Volunteer of the Year; Leon “Roy” Paulin was the 2012 Volunteer Corps Member of the Year; and Deputy James Jarosch was the 2012 Reserved Deputy of the Year.