Red Cross honors ‘Real Heroes’ for their efforts |

Red Cross honors ‘Real Heroes’ for their efforts

He may be a senior citizen, but Delbert Mack is hardly the retiring type.

When he wrapped up a 40-year career at a Grass Valley foundry, Mack figured it was time to try something new, to give back.

So the 74-year-old retiree decided to don a badge and spend several days a week behind the wheel of a patrol car as one of the Grass Valley Police Department’s volunteers.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “It keeps me occupied and makes me feel good to help the police department out.”

Mack was one of 11 volunteers honored for their good works and volunteer efforts at Thursday’s Real Heroes Breakfast, held by the western Nevada County branch of the American Red Cross Three Rivers Chapter. Each of the honorees was selected by an anonymous panel selected by the Red Cross.

Categories included medical heroes, public service heroes and Good Samaritans.

Mack has logged more than 11 years and 2,613 hours as a volunteer. He wears a badge and dons a uniform, and he helps the department with tasks such as taking documents to the county courthouse, helping with traffic control, removing signs from public property and other tasks he said would take forever to name.

“The list goes on and on,” he said. “We’re the goodwill ambassadors. The cops are the bad guys,” he joked.

Mack and his wife also volunteer their time by taking in newborn children of women inmates at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, three hours south of Grass Valley.

Mack and his wife take in the children until their mothers are paroled.

Over four years, the couple has cared for seven babies.

“I can’t imagine a better place (for the babies) than in the arms of Del, holding on tight and giving assurance that as long as he has them, no harm will come to them,” said Grass Valley Sgt. Doug Hren in nominating Mack for the honor.

The spirit of giving seems inherent in Mack, who faithfully donates blood and works at Interfaith Food Ministry once a week.

Mack, who moved to Grass Valley in 1939 and was in the last graduating class at Grass Valley High School in 1952, volunteers four hours a week.

He spent 40 years at a foundry in Grass Valley.

A friend, Dennis Bennallack, signed him up for Grass Valley’s second volunteer class, without Mack’s knowledge.

Mack didn’t hesitate.

The event serves as a way to highlight those who might not otherwise be recognized for the good they do, said Kimala DeSena, the fundraising chair for the western Nevada County branch of the Red Cross.

“These are hard times for people, and we need something to make them smile,” said DeSena. “Living in these current times, we need to focus on each other and the good that we do.”

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