An extraordinary Mt. Juliet citizen is the recipient of the city police department's top volunteer honor.
By day, Karen Summey sells outbuildings with her husband at Sunset Structures on Mt. Juliet Road, south of Providence Shopping Center.
“We sell wood storage buildings, dog houses, [and] play sets,” she said.
By night, she's practically a crime fighter, as a member of the local Citizen Police Academy. She's one of 25 active alumni who volunteer time on a regular basis, but Summey tends to go above and beyond the call of duty.
“I send out all the emails. I coordinate all the volunteers. I make sure that we have workers come in and do certain events,” she said.
Sommey helps organize nearly everything outside of patrolling the streets. She puts in 400 to 500 volunteer hours every year.
“People say, 'Why would you do all that volunteer work?' I do it because I want to help Mt. Juliet,” she said. “Mt. Juliet is my home. It's my granddaughter's home. It's where we want to be. And if we don't do it, who's going to do it?”
She's given hundreds of hours every year over the last decade, even though her hours are limited.
Summey has pulmonary fibrosis, a life-threatening condition in her lungs.
“I got not such good news last week, saying it was going down fast, but I can't worry about things like that,” she said.
On Wednesday night, her thoughts were far from her illness. She was among friends at a holiday banquet for the police department's volunteers.
To her surprise, she was honored with the Sergeant Jerry Mundy Volunteer Service Award. The award is named after an officer killed in the line duty and is meant to honor those dedicated to the community.
However special, the award does the mark the end of Summey's volunteerism. She feels strongly that there is more work to be done.
“You can't lay down and just wait to die,” she said. “You have to continue to do what you want to do as long as you can do it.”