Dennis “Woody” Woods was recently awarded the Missouri Police Chiefs Association President’s Citizen Award for his contributions to the community, particularly for his founding efforts of the Pleasant Hill C.A.R.E.S (Citizens Assisting First Responder Emergency Services). The Mayor and City Council also presented Woody with a proclamation at the May 8th City Council meeting, recognizing his exceptional service to the community. Pleasant Hill C.A.R.E.S. is a non-profit organization intent on building citizen and community support for first responders and emergency services.
Despite receiving the recognition, Woody credits the success to those around him and the support of the community rather than his singular efforts. Woody mentioned that the organization was founded with the help of his friends Ron Dowell and Jon Mooneyham. The plans for the organization were approved by former Fire Chief Steve Long, former Police Chief Robert Driscoll, and the City Council. Woody also credits Board Member/Treasurer Jenny Gentry as the “one that makes everything happen.” The organization was established in 2014.
Since then, the C.A.R.E.S. organization has grown and now funds a scholarship program, holds multiple fundraising events, provides resources to law enforcement agencies that are outside typical budgets, provides temporary assistance to first responders and their families, and works to rally first responder support from local businesses.
The mission of C.A.R.E.S. is personal for Woody after he suffered a severe heart attack in 2012 which required EMS and Life Flight to respond quickly. The attending cardiologist told Woody he was lucky to be alive and that the quick actions of the first responders had saved his life. This set a purposeful passion to support those who helped him.
Then, as there was a rising anti-police sentiment formed across the nation, Woody grew tired of the negativity and hate and decided to take action. He gathered some individuals and began a cookout and show of support for first responders – a stark contrast to the anti-police protests occurring nationwide. Woody knew that the departments needed to feel the support from the community. And C.A.R.E.S. was established during this time.
This isn’t the first time Woody has been recognized for his efforts to help fellow citizens and the City as a whole. It’s part of his nature to serve. He was previously recognized as Citizen of the Year in 2000 for his help during a dangerous flood that occurred that summer. Woody said, “I helped sandbag the downtown area and pumped a lot of basements with my kids.”
The Mayor, Council, and City as a whole thank Dennis “Woody” Woods and the entire C.A.R.E.S. organization their generous hearts and drive to initiate Pleasant Hill C.A.R.E.S. Mr. Woods and this organization are worthy of recognition for their efforts.