VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Inside the Virginia Beach Police Department's 4th Precinct, it's a stake-out of sorts - keeping an eye out for a special volunteer. And once we got word she and her partner were about to walk in, a group of fellow officers huddled in a meeting room to surprise her with applause and cheers.
Linda Finch knew something was up.
"Well, it's one of those surprises they pull on me at the precinct every once in a while," she said.
Captain Scott Wichtendahl, the commanding officer of the 4th Precinct read a quick summary detailing Finch's 40 years of giving back.
"And you've touched so many lives through a number of roles you've taken on. We're grateful, and we're here to give you our appreciation for your service."
Reflecting on her four decades of volunteering, which started while she was also an elementary school teacher, Linda fought back tears.
"Thank you so much! You don't know what this means to me. I had no idea when I started volunteering so many years ago as a young teacher, I would still be doing it today," she said.
Before becoming a volunteer chaplain, she also joined the volunteer rescue squad of Kempsville.
For those reasons, News 3 presented Finch with a People Taking Action award, along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.
"Wow! Thank you so much! I don't know what to say... thank you, thank you and thank all of you here at the precinct. I love every one of you. You've been my family for a long time," she said.
And as Finch points out, when she's out on patrol, she's not worried.
"I love the street. I feel safe actually being on the street; it's something I'm supposed to do. When I go out, if I can't fix what's wrong, I want to make it better. I want you to feel better about yourself or the situation and know that somebody cares."
She says she has a simple strategy when trying trying to diffuse tense volatile situations.
"Well, you kinda walk in and say, 'Hey, you know I'm here to help.' Whether it's a chaplain - if I'm the chaplain, sometimes I don't even tell them I'm a chaplain, sometimes I do. Sometimes I actually say, 'I'm not a police officer - talk to me!' I've said a million times, you don't have to give me stripes or a gold badge. You have to earn respect, and the only way to earn respect is to get out there and be yourself in a situation and let the person learn to trust you!"
To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.