From left, Fire Chief Greg Klaiber, Dr. David Blatt, Milcah Baraona, Jim Gordon and Police Chief Richard Eddington at Chiefs’ Luncheon. Photo by Evanston Photographic Studios

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The Evanston Police and Fire Foundation’s “annual” Chief’s luncheon, held during the noon hours on Nov. 14 in the Hilton Garden Inn’s banquet room, celebrated volunteerism while describing its successes. The foundation, not yet three years old, is purely volunteer-run and funded entirely by private donations.

Chief Greg Klaiber of Fire and Life Safety Services presented the “Spirit of Service” award to Dr. David Blatt for his contributions to the department. Chief Klaiber said that it seemed like everywhere he looked, Dr. Blatt was there helping out.

Police Chief Richard Eddington named Milcah Baraona the “Police Department’s Volunteer of the Year,” citing her work with the Citizen’s Police Academy among other efforts.

The Police and Fire Foundation was established to provide a source of supplemental funding for services and equipment that go above and beyond what the City’s budget allows. Chief Klaiber pointed to his department’s community outreach initiatives, such as the CPR program and the “File of Life” program.

Another outreach, the Citizens’ Fire Academy, will start next year. These efforts would not have been possible without funding provided through the foundation, he said. He also cited the high school “Fire Explorers” program, saying that Foundation funds paid for equipment used by that program.

Chief Eddington said the foundation allows his department to seek equipment that “fits within the niche of what the department wanted” but that falls outside the constraints of the City’s – and thus the department’s – budget. He said the foundation has been and continues to be a big supporter of the Canine Division.

Foundation funding allowed the Evanston Police Department to successfully retire one police dog, Jack, and bring another, Rory, on board, with little interruption in service.

Each chief said his department closely considers supplemental equipment and services before requesting assistance from the foundation. Anyone in the department can bring a suggestion for a new program or supplemental equipment, and the department will consider whether or not to seek funding.

“Operational needs are not part of the equation,” said Chief Klaiber, but the foundation allows for creative ideas outside the department’s current operations and therefore for the real possibility that new programs can get started and take root.

Chief Eddington said the he likes to rotate commanders, deputies and sergeants through foundation meetings to get as many viewpoints and ideas as possible. Things “that aren’t sustained by the City budget” become possible thanks to the Police and Fire Foundation, he said.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Aldermen Coleen Burrus, Ann Rainey, Peter Braithwaite and Delores Holmes attended the luncheon. They were joined by State Representative Robyn Gabel, all showing support for the Police and Fire Foundation and its work.

The “annual” lunch took the year off last year, but the chair of the foundation’s board of directors, Bob Eder, said he hoped to make the event truly annual in the coming years.