LOWER PROVIDENCE — It was fitting that the Lower Providence Optimist Club chose EMS Week (May 17-23) to honor not only EMS workers but the Officer of the Year.
“We were going over to present our Operation LifeSaver baskets so we decided to present the Officer of the Year award as well,” noted Optimist Club president Lorin Richter about the club’s visit to the Lower Providence Police headquarters on Monday.
The LifeSaver baskets, which the group had recently presented to the staff at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, are packed with nutritional snacks, Richter noted.
“The baskets will help feed the officers and medical staff during long shifts,” she said.
The Officer of the Year is a longtime program for the club.
The Optimist Club presented a plaque to Officer Matthew Barber on Monday.
“We don’t select the officer; we honor him. We ask the chief to recommend someone and they go through the candidates and select someone,” Richter explained. “We started the program but the officers choose who they want to honor.”
Police Chief Michael Jackson provided a strong recommendation of Officer Barber to the club:
“Officer Barber is the embodiment of the community policing concept. He routinely volunteers to provide outside groups with tours of the station, engages in reading books to young children, attends community functions as well as never strays away from an opportunity to speak with people about his duties as a police officer. His most notable endeavor is his involvement with the police department’s Junior Police Academy. Each year, he spends countless hours organizing the two-day event by securing food and drink for the campers, designing & ordering T-shirts, obtaining supplies and coordinating with various emergency services groups who participate each day. It is extremely obvious to everyone working alongside him that his dedication and commitment to the camp are for the children. He not only wants them learning about a career in law enforcement but looks forward to them leaving with a memorable and fun experience.”
Barber, a Lower Salford native and graduate of Souderton High, said he was thrilled to receive the recognition.
“I’ve been in Lower Providence for nine years. I’ve been a police officer for 12. I didn’t expect it, I wasn’t looking for it,” he said during a phone interview. “But I was very humbled when I was told I was receiving the award. I’ve known about the Optimist Club since I started working there and they do wonderful things for our community and I’m just happy they were able to recognize some of the nice things I’ve been able to do as a police officer for our community. I wanted to do the best job I could for our community I always had a lot of respect for my local police officers, so I wanted to continue to pass it forward and try to make a difference for kids in our community.”