Unsung hero: Jim Hansen goes that ‘extra step’
Jim Hansen doesn’t just volunteer time. He volunteers his heart as well.
Hansen, who volunteers at the DCSO substation on Tillman in the Gardnerville Ranchos, thinks that helping out the sheriff’s office is more of a community contribution than the action of a hero.
“I have no idea why anyone considers me a hero. Just because I volunteer time, I’m not necessarily a hero,” said Hansen.
Maybe not. But, “Jim stands out in bold print for all the things that he does,” said DCSO Sheriff’s Sgt. Lance Modispacher. “If something needs to be done, it gets done, even if it’s changing the light bulb.”
“Jim Hansen is a hero in my eyes,” Modispacher said.
According to Betty Miller, who organizes the substation volunteers, Hansen often goes the extra step to show his appreciation to the sheriff’s office.
“We had a Christmas party for the volunteers at Sharkey’s and Jim donated flower centerpieces for every table. He and his wife, Anna, decorated the tree. Every detail was perfect because Jim took the time to care. I can’t say enough about Jim,” Miller said.
Hansen said that he started volunteering at the substation as a way to meet people, and didn’t realize that he would get hooked on the positive benefits of the position.
“When you move, you don’t miss the sticks and stones, you miss the people, and working at the substation was an opportunity to meet others,” said Hansen. “Plus this is a real service that we provide. And the best part? I’m having fun.”
Volunteer work at the substation is designed to take a burden off of the officers.
“We listen to problems and make referrals,” said Hansen. “Or ,we may register someone to vote or license a dog or sell Christmas tree permits. Our job is to save people a trip to Minden and to allow the officers more time to do their job. Helping is having fun.”
Besides his volunteer time at the substation, Hansen is a member of the Handicapped Parking Program. Sgt. Ed Abrams is in charge of organizing the volunteers and overseeing the program. He described the program as teams of volunteers working 4-hour shifts to ticket people who are parked in handicapped parking spots without being qualified to do so.
Handicapped Parking Program volunteers are also assigned to specialized assignments, such as duty during the elections.
“Jim is one of several volunteers who make this program work,” said Abrams. “They perform services that wouldn’t get done without them.”
Hansen has always been civic minded. He was born and raised in San Fernando, Calif., and agonized over the valley’s growth, which is similar to what Carson Valley is currently encountering.
“One day I woke up and saw what was going on,” said Hansen. “Next thing I knew, I was on the planning commission for nine years, the city council for four to five years and the mayor for two years. I guess I got involved.”
According to Hansen’s son, Tom, the commitment to his community didn’t end with holding office. While in San Fernando, Hansen was a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus and was very active with his church. He was a Boy Scout volunteer for years.
“Plus, my father goes to every function that supports a community cause,” said Tom. “He’ll do just about anything he can for anyone.”
Since moving to the Carson Valley, Jim Hansen’s cause is anything that supports the sheriff’s office. That includes the two Hansens teaming up to support the DCSO Explorers Post. In August 1998, they brought the In-N-Out Burger trailer to town and set it up in the parking lot of Bouquet and Bouquet, which Tom owns. Before the day was over they collected a chunk of change for the Explorer unit.
“It isn’t hard to support something you believe in,” said Hansen. “I happen to believe very strongly in excellent law enforcement. Douglas County has the best.”
Hansen also believes in youth activities. He is the treasurer for the Carson Valley In-line Hockey league.
“Before I retired, I was an accountant,” said Hansen. “I like to take care of the money.”
Hansen said that while in California, his boss believed in community involvement. His example encouraged Hansen to start volunteering.
“I believe in giving something back to your community,” said Hansen. “The Carson Valley is our home, and I’ll do whatever I can to make it a good place to live and to raise a family.”
Hansen and his wife were childhood sweethearts and they have been married for 43 years. They have four children who live in the area, and 13 grandchildren. Anna had to remind him that they have one great-grandchild, with another on the way.
“I have an investment in the Carson Valley. I’ll do this as long as I can, and as long as they let me,” said Hansen.
“But I can’t take what I do too seriously. I’m having too much fun.”