Meet Lt. Wilburn, Winner of the 2017 Why We Serve Grant

Last week, Aftermath announced the winner of the 2017 Why We Serve service grant competition. The grant was promoted through July and asked officers to record and share their stories about why they serve. At the end, four finalists were chosen. For 10 days, their videos were promoted across the company’s website and through social media and voted on by members in their communities and nationwide.

Once again, we’d like to extend our congratulations to Lt. Wilburn of the Radford City Police Department of Radford, Virginia. Lt. Wilburn is a 20 year veteran of law enforcement. His winning video can be viewed on the Why We Serve homepage.

As first place winner, Lt. Wilburn received a $5000 grant for his chosen charity, Help Save the Next Girl. Runners up also received grants ranging from $1000 to $500. Thank you to all those who participated, and congratulations to each of the four finalists!

About the Radford Community

Lt. Wilburn attributes his win to having a supportive community prepared to help. During the voting period, many Radford locals shared links to the Why We Serve voting page and encouraged others to vote. Local CBS affiliate WDBJ7 ran the story on the news and The Radford News Messenger also published an article.

“Our community supports our department,” Lt. Wilburn explained. “It’s a college town. We don’t have any large corporations in our community so we don’t have the tax base allowing us to be as financially independent and able to do as much as we’d like. That’s why we entered the contest.”

When asked about how he heard of the Why We Serve service grant, Lt. Wilburn replied that Mike Webster, a Senior Manager of Law Enforcement Relations with the company, informed him of it during his last visit to the department. “I first met Mike at the last VACP conference and we’ve built a good relationship since then. We’ve seen the positive work Aftermath does for the community. We’ve even used the company’s jail cell services prior to the grant and were very pleased with the results.”

About the Charity

As Lt. Wilburn describes in his video, Radford City does have it’s share of problems. Untreated mental illness and drug abuse are the biggest concerns. “We have a young college-age population, and many of them are experimenting with drugs for the first time. It’s a dangerous situation.”

Help Save The Next Girl was formed following the 2009 abduction and murder of Morgan Dana Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student. The organization’s primary focus is to spread safety information and prevent future crimes against young women by promoting vigilance, communication, support, and personal awareness.

Lt. Wilburn first encountered the Help Save the Next Girl campaign a year ago, when he was working on a social media and internet safety presentation for Radford High School.  “As the police department, we realized that we were being reactive and we needed to become proactive in order to make a difference. I had heard about Help Save the Next Girl and thought it offered a valuable message. I contacted the charity and got a response form their Regional Representative, Peggy, who is a teacher at a local school. She came to my presentation and said that she was blown away about all of the dangers online. We started working together to enhance safety, awareness and personal responsibility for our community members.”

How You Can Help

For those in the Radford area who are looking to get involved with Help Save the Next Girl, Lt. Wilburn says there is plenty of opportunity. “This is the first year we are hosting events at the local high school and middle school. In order to expose new students to the campaign, we need volunteers to work at the tables and build awareness. To communicate effectively, these volunteers need to understand the cause, so we make sure to take time and teach each volunteer about the charity and it’s importance.”

Help Save the Next Girl is also getting noticed in other states, at college campuses, high schools, middle schools, and in communities.  In addition to Virginia, chapters have sprung up in Maryland, South Carolina, and Michigan. The organization’s leader, Jane Lillian Vance, has created a page for prospective and interested chapters.

Lt. Wilburn says he hopes the grant will give the organization the ability to reach an even wider audience: “Part of the challenge is connecting with our target audience on a platform that they already use, such as Instagram. We would like to create interesting and informative videos or snippets that we can share on social media. We would also like to create pledge cards to make sure they understand the importance of the message, as well as offering personal safety training in the community, such as self-defense classes.”

“I want to build as much awareness as possible to give us the opportunity to share our message. Normally we wouldn’t be able to create these things, but the grant from Aftermath will help us do so.”

About Aftermath

As the nation’s largest dedicated crime scene cleanup company, Aftermath Services LLC proudly recognizes the spirit of volunteerism embodied by many of our nation’s law enforcement. The Why We Serve Grant is just one aspect of the Aftermath Cares program, aimed at acknowledging first responders for their ongoing efforts to protect and improve their communities. To learn more about the grant and other law enforcement programs, visit Aftermath’s Law Enforcement page.