Optimist Club of Myrtle Beach honors dispatcher and missionary

The Optimist Club of Myrtle Beach honored a dispatcher and a missionary who helps homeless in the city during a ceremony Thursday at Pine Lakes Country Club.

Carol Stallings, director of the Swash Park Ministry, was named the 2014 Citizen Aiding Law Enforcement, which George Cox of the Optimist Club said is not awarded annually, but is given when a community member aids police in a remarkable way. Kim Kelly, a dispatcher for Myrtle Beach Police Department, was named the support staff employee of the year.

Stallings was nominated by Warren Gall, Myrtle Beach police chief, who said she is an advocate for the homeless and helpless and her efforts “have reduced by a significant number of people who would either become victims or defendants in our systems due to their situations.”

Stallings, according to Gall, returned 62 people in 2013 to areas where their family support is located. Only two ended up back in Myrtle Beach.

Kelly was tearful as she received her plaque and gift basket Thursday.

She has worked for the Myrtle Beach Police Department nearly six years and said she was a dog groomer before joining the agency.

She said she never thought she would work for a police department in any capacity, but couldn’t imagine doing anything else now.

Kelly said she loves her job because she knows she is helping someone in the community every time she answers a 911 call.

Lt. John Bertang, who nominated Kelly for the award, said she always demonstrates and practices the city’s “First in Service” philosophy. He said she takes on additional duties at work and was recently promoted to a supervisor position in the communications department.

Kelly is responsible for answering 911 calls, dispatching first responders, supervising other dispatchers, maintaining National Crime Information Center files for employees and background checks.

Bertang said Kelly also volunteers within the department and the community by sitting on the committee for Shop with a Cop, leading a team in cystic fibrosis fundraisers, organizing the department’s kids Christmas party and volunteering at a local animal shelter.