Her name is Flo Wormely, but the kids she serves often call her "Officer Love." Toledo's most loved cop was just voted this area's "Best Community Leader" in Steve Harvey's annual Hoodie Awards competition, now called the Local Neighborhood Awards.
Local winners were top vote-getters in an online contest in 12 categories. Other local winners include Felicia Dunston of Robinson Junior High for Best School Teacher, Earl Morris of Rogers High School for Best School Coach, and Ruby's Kitchen for Best Soul Food. Businesses and people in the community were nominated by WJUC FM107.3 listeners.
Local winners will now compete in a one day national online voting contest on designated dates. The five top vote-getters nationwide will be honored Aug. 8-11 at the 2013 Ford Neighborhood Awards in Las Vegas.
Officer Wormely once wanted to become a social worker. "Now I have the best of both worlds," she said, as a member of the Toledo Police Probation Team, a community outreach arm of TPD that works with young people. Her partner in preventing crime is Officer Byron Daniels.
Working with up to 150 kids a year, Officers Wormely and Daniels divert kids from the courts into community service projects, take young men into prisons to talk to inmates, organize basketball teams for middle schoolers, and run summer tutoring programs as part of the S.T.R.I.V.E. program, whose students achieve some of the city's highest OGT scores. Officer Wormely founded S.T.R.I.V.E. and will donate any prize money she receives to the program.
"Arresting kids isn't always the answer,'' she told me. "We need to help kids change and succeed."
To vote for Officer Wormely for Best Community Leader, go to www.thejuice1073.com. Voting for Best Community Leader takes place on May 29 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Let's send Officer Love to Vegas.