Since the late 1990’s, the Valdosta Police Department with assistance from LODAC (Lowndes Drug Action Council, Inc) have put forth efforts to show gratitude for “exemplary kids” through the Generating Opportunities in Life For Each Resident (GOLFER) program. The program targets junior high/high school aged young adults that have had no disciplinary actions and have maintained good grades throughout the school year. VPD Officer Mark Burkhart developed the program in 1996 feeling that, although there were many great programs targeted at keeping kids out of trouble and encouraging good behavior, there were no programs that rewarded kids that consistently stayed out of trouble and worked hard during the school year.
Recently, six youth entering their junior year in high school, as part of the GOLFER program, were taken to Tybee Island, Ga. for an educational trip. They visited the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum. Some of the youth have never been to a beach and were very excited to see it for the first time. The youth had the opportunity to learn about ocean sea life, the tides, and also observed several commercial shipping vessels transporting goods to another country. In addition, they had the opportunity to see the sunrise over the water for the first time.
The youth have also participated in GOLFER events such as visiting senior citizens at Sands Horizon, hosting a Community Gathering to help improve the relationship between local law enforcement and citizens, and helping keep their neighborhoods clean.
Officer Burkhart advised that continued support for this program is essential to be able to continue this positive program. The next fundraiser is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2016 at Moody Quiet Pines Golf Course Golf Driving Range (located at 15501 Prewitte Street, Moody AFB, Ga. If anyone would like more information on this program, contact Officer Burkhart firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“The Valdosta Police Department is proud of all our youth that are striving to better themselves and to make our community a better place. VPD recognizes the assistance of Officer Mark Burkhart, LODAC, and the long hours of volunteer work that many of our officers complete behind the scenes to ensure that the futures of our young people remain bright,” said Lt. Adam Bembry.