Editor’s note: Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.
Sgt. David Call has been with the Orem Police Department for about 17 years.
Several things drew him to the law enforcement profession, Call said, including the promise of adventure and use of firearms. However, it was the opportunity to serve and help people in his community that ultimately motivated him to join the force.
“He entered the police profession because he wanted to help people,” Call’s wife, Shanni, said in a statement. “He doesn’t get recognized for the things he does because it is just the right thing to do.”
She said Call goes above and beyond what is expected of him in an effort to serve his community. She recalled last week when he returned from work with his uniform covered in dirt.
Call and another officer had visited a residence to complete a home visit when they noticed an elderly neighbor and his wife were preparing to lay a pallet of sod. The two officers jumped in to help, drawing the attention of another neighbor who also stopped to complete the project.
The only reason anyone outside of the group who laid the sod knew about the random act of kindness was because he had come home with a dirty uniform.
“These are the kinds of things that don’t win awards, but they definitely qualify as a hometown hero just by the way he lives his life,” Call’s wife asserted. “He is an officer, but he is a good guy that makes a difference.”
Call’s wife characterizes him as a “quiet server,” so when the community wanted to give back, he was surprised.
Springville local Casey Warren opened an orthodontics practice in his home town over a decade ago. In an effort to give back to the community, Warren Orthodontics has hosted a few charitable programs that offer free braces or Invisalign treatments to residents around the community.
“The best way we can give back is through smiles,” Warren said. “We love giving back to people.”
Earlier this year, freshman Rowdy Peterson and preschool teacher Heather Child were surprised with their own paid-for treatments through the Warren’s Got Smiles and Smiles for Teachers programs.
“It’s fun to give somebody something they weren’t expecting, that’s positive; I think a lot of joy can be had there,” he said.
A short time later, Warren recognized another group he could serve: hometown heroes.
The orthodontic practice began accepting nominations for first responders and medical professionals who served their communities to the best of their ability in hopes of awarding them with a free service.
“We want to thank all of our hometown heroes,” Warren said. “We appreciate them, they serve us, they protect us, they help us. This is just another way for us to say thanks.”
After receiving several nominations and assessing the candidates, Warren and his team chose Call to be the first Hometown Hero program recipient.
“David has given much of his life to his community,” Warren said. “David came across as somebody who is humble, kind and willing to serve others. As we reviewed that, we thought he would be a great match. He was somebody who serves the community, lives in the community and is just a genuinely good person. That’s what set David apart.”
On Saturday morning, Warren and a team of people — including some of Call’s close friends in law enforcement — surprised him at his home.
Call said he didn’t know the program existed until 9 a.m. Saturday morning, let alone that he was a nominee.
“There was a knock on the door, and my wife said, ‘Hey, why don’t you go and get that?’” Call reminisced. “I stepped outside and there was a group of individuals that I didn’t quite recognize.”
Warren presented Call with a large check that read “free braces” and explained the Hometown Heroes program to the inaugural recipient. Call said he initially thought it was a well-planned prank thought up by his colleagues and friends.
As the celebration continued, however, Call began to realize just how real it was. It was a humbling experience and quite an honor for Call, not only to be nominated but especially to be the first recipient, he said.
“It’s not something I do,” he said. “I like the phrase ‘silent professional.’ I do my work and do it to the best of my ability. I’m not in it for the praise. It was definitely a huge surprise.”
Call said he never had the opportunity to get braces growing up, but he understands the weight of a smile. While recalling a phrase he had heard in high school — Phyllis Diller’s quote that reads, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight” — Call was overwhelmed with emotion.
“In my own life, I found that to be true,” he said, tearfully. “I like to try to smile as much as I can. I see people just change their attitudes — just a little bit — when they see a cop smile. It almost kind of breaks the ice and allows for normal, everyday conversation. That’s who we are as officers; we’re normal people.”
For Call, the Hometown Heroes project is an opportunity to make his smile better so he can brighten people’s days.
To the person who nominated him, Call said he is lost for words, expressing his gratitude with a simple “thank you” and adding that the nomination was a “very, very kind act.”
To the community in general, Call asked residents to be kind to each other, and in honor of the journey he will be taking to receive his new smile, he is urging Utah County to “smile a little more.”
Warren said he expects to continue the Hometown Heroes program into the future as a annual, charitable installment to his practice.