Sixth Annual Above and Beyond Awards Honors Tulsa’s Finest

By GasserOnline Correspondent, Michael Willis

GASSER-Article-A-B-2-13The men and women of Tulsa’s Police and Fire Departments are truly Tulsa’s finest.  They have a responsibility and duty to fight through adversity and tackle challenges every day.  While our community employs hundreds of police officers and firefighters – hundreds of heroes, on February 6, 2013, our club honored two of Tulsa’s top police officers and one extraordinarily brave firefighter.

Founded in 2008 by the Rotary Club of Tulsa, the Above and Beyond Awards recognizes Tulsa’s top Police Officers and Firefighters.  Honorees are nominated by their peers and/or supervisors based on performance and community involvement.

This year, we honored Officer Jesse Guardiola and Sergeant Mark Sherwood of the Tulsa Police Department.  In addition to their duty assignments at the Tulsa Police Training Center, they have gone above & beyond to create a comprehensive Hispanic Outreach program that has been named a top 10 program out of 350 in the nation.  The program enhances TPD’s ability to work with and communicate with the Hispanic community.  Notable accomplishments include teaching Spanish and Hispanic Culture classes along with pairing Spanish-speaking volunteers with Tulsa Police Officers, and a new Spanish-speaking Crime Stoppers Hotline.

At the awards ceremony, Guardiola said, “I am very honored to be receiving this award from an organization outside of the Police Department.  Helping the Hispanic Community build bridges with the police is a need that benefits the whole City of Tulsa. We need this community not to be afraid of reporting crime or scared to work with law enforcement.  It is a passion of mine and I am thankful the Rotary Club has recognized the hard work that goes into working to build trust in a developing community.”

In addition, Sergeant Sherwood said, “I am overwhelmed to receive this recognition. Truly, credit goes to the TPD command staff for allowing Officer Guardiola and I to shape, form, and proceed with a program to facilitate communication with this fast growing community.  I am honored to play a part.”

Mark Meyer is this year’s honoree from the Tulsa Fire Department.  He is a 15-year veteran of TFD.  Mark recently founded Hydrants for Hope, a program that provides support to families of children with cancer.  Obviously, service to others is central to Mark’s life, but his decision to start Hydrants for Hope came after he was diagnosed with stage-four sarcoma.  Mark’s program sells t-shirts and bracelets with all of the proceeds going to purchase things like prescriptions, fuel cards and other items that help support these families.

During Mark’s own experience in fighting through cancer, he found that nearly 150 children have cancer in the Tulsa area at any given time, and around 65 new cases are diagnosed every year.  His passion for helping others in his life both professionally and personally shows his dedication as a true public servant.  We look forward to seeing Mark fighting fire again soon.

Upon receiving his award, Meyer said, “I’ve been honored to do what I love with the fire department for 15 years.  I’m overwhelmed and honored to be chosen for this award.  I’ll be forever grateful.”

Each of the honorees received an award at the ceremony.  Additionally, the Rotary Club of Tulsa donated $1,000 to Hydrants of Hope on behalf of Mark Meyer and $1,000 to the Tulsa Police Officers Memorial on behalf of Jesse Guardiola and Mark Sherwood.

Several Tulsa media outlets covered the program.  Below are links to some of the local stories.