On Wednesday, Columbus Division of Police Officer Tony Rogers retires after 32.5 years of service. We have had the privilege of working with him since 2018 in his positions as a Community Liaison Officer and with the CPD Therapy Dog Unit.
Officer Rogers is amazing. Not only is he a dedicated, hard-working officer, but he is one of the most positive people we have ever met. It is no exaggeration when we say that he completely changed us as a charity. He introduced us to our amazing Executive Vice-President, Mario Dovell, who is his close friend. They are the reason we partner with Columbus Recreation and Parks Department on so many of our projects. We're so grateful to both of them for everything they've taught us and for the grace they've given us.
One of the other positions Officer Rogers held was a K-9 officer. Before the pandemic, he spoke to a Starfish meeting about his K-9 partners (they were wonderful stories). He also introduced us to K-9 Officer David Jones and his partner, Ayko, arranging for our president and founder, Nicole Banks, to do a ride along with them in June 2019. Officer Jones and CPD's K-9 Unit have been big supporters of ours ever since, coming to our events, doing Assignments with us, and distributing items to people in need.
Officer Rogers and Mario helped us arrange the first-ever Books & Badges reading, on December 19, 2019. K-9 Officer David Jones was there, as were Sergeant Christopher Smith-Hughes and Officer Eric Jones. None of us had any idea that within a few years and despite a pandemic, Starfish would distribute more than 16,000 books through that program to 14 different agencies in three states.
This is only how Officer Rogers has made a difference with Starfish. Can you imagine how he's affected the lives of the people he's worked with over the past 32.5 years? The lives of the people he's mentored? The lives of the people he's served and protected? What a legacy.
Tony, thank you for being you. Thank you for befriending us and for working with us. Congratulations to you on this much-deserved retirement. We are so grateful to you for everything you did.