Volunteer Spotlight

TEXSAR has declared 2022, the Year of the Volunteer. TEXSAR Members (volunteers) are the spirit behind the mission. We brag on these team members a lot, but with extensive growth over the past several years, we feel it necessary to devote an entire year to celebrating these selfless individuals that define who we are. 

We will be spotlighting TEXSAR Members all year long. Stay tuned to this blog for our monthly spotlights and get a glimpse of who our volunteers really are.


Meet TEXSAR Member, Linna!

I’m originally from California, but I moved to Texas last year, where I joined TEXSAR immediately upon my arrival. In my day job, I work as an emergency response coordinator for Stratolaunch and am a small business owner. My background/education is a bit of a mix: I have two Masters in Human Factors and Safety Management and a BS in Public Health. I volunteered for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office SAR group and Ski Patrol in California. I served as the Training Sgt and Medical Sgt for my unit until I moved to Ventura County. COVID made SAR difficult in California, so I was eager to get back into it with TEXSAR.

Was there a moment or an event in your life that made you realize you love helping people?
It’s been somewhat of a cumulative experience throughout my life. My parents taught us that a life of servitude was the best way to build self-esteem. But if I had to pinpoint a major moment in my life that solidified that love for helping people, it would be one cold, dark November night in 2013 when a stranger and I stopped to assist a homeless man who got hit by a car at 55 MPH. The trauma was massive; it was the first time I watched someone come back from “clinical death,” It was incredibly humbling to be in this situation without any of the tools we usually have as first responders. Whether he lived or died after fire/EMS wheeled him off to the hospital is irrelevant. If he lived, COOL, but if he didn’t make it, I took comfort in knowing a group of strangers gave him care and dignity that he probably hadn’t experienced as a homeless man. In this deeply human experience, I realized how deeply unfulfilled I was with my job and my life in general. Helping people was the missing piece. Life is way too short to work a job you hate, surround yourself with people who don’t support you, and focus on everything wrong with the world. So later that night, after a much-needed existential crisis, I signed up for classes and joined my local SAR unit. The rest is history.

How do you prepare yourself to endure difficult weather conditions?
You know, being a Californian, most people assume our weather is beautiful 24/7, which it absolutely is NOT (although Hurricanes are new to me). In terms of home preparedness, I always ensure I have a rotation of sustainable food and water to feed me, my partner, and our pets for 2-3 weeks. I’m a big tech geek, so I have a slew of gadgets like solar, power banks, water filtration, etc. Since all my family is back West, I give them a general idea of where I’m at and how to contact me (my inReach SAT/GPS or cell phone). In the field, I check weather reports and ensure I have the right clothing, footwear, water amounts, etc. I keep all my common SAR stuff in a rolling bin, so when I arrive for a search I can adjust my pack load out when conditions change.

What’s one the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your time as a TEXSAR volunteer?
That water is terrifying. Look, I come from the Mojave Desert. I grew up with the “Killer Kern River” which takes multiple lives every year, but Texas water is something else. I surf and grew up swimming all the time, so I’m no stranger to water, but training in FAST/RBO has taught me that swimming with gear on significantly impacts your endurance and I need to up my swimming game. So I swim laps multiple times a week at the 24 Hour Fitness near me (NOT with all my gear on though… I’d look silly). Also there are STILL mosquitoes in December.

What keeps you coming back as a TEXSAR volunteer?
The people. Although I came to TEXSAR with years of experience, there are SO MANY PEOPLE in this organization with a wealth of knowledge that I want to soak up like a sponge. TEXSAR is one of the most diverse search organizations I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s that diversity combined with individuals’ willingness to share knowledge that sets TEXSAR apart from the rest. I’ve been part of organizations before that are so highly departmentalized that it becomes a problem. With TEXSAR, you know that you have several skillsets within the mix on any given search. People here are like “Human Swiss Army Knives” in TEXSAR… you need a sUAS pilot? We got one. You need a HRD K9? We got one. Medical? No problem. I love that… I get fired up about that! Because that’s what an effective team is all about.

What is your favorite item in your pack?
You know, after going through my pack to answer this it’s still gotta be the “Payday” candy bar. Ever since Jackie mentioned always keeping one in her pack I now keep one in mine. It’s got sugars, salts, fats, it doesn’t melt, and it’s a morale booster to have a treat… WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS SOONER?!



Name: Amy Shoe, Central Texas Division
Year you Joined TEXSAR: 2016

Tell us a little about yourself:

I work as a Contract Manager for a Tech Services Company. My daughter is my world. I am originally from Michigan; I have been in Texas for ten years. My recent hobby is cycling. I completed RAGBRAI, a Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. I completed this with another TEXSAR member, a dear friend of mine. We plan to complete this again this year as well.

What kind of bike do you ride?

Cannondale Synapse -aka- Super cool bike

Was there a moment or an event in your life that made you realize you love helping people?

All my life, I have had a passion for helping others and volunteering any way I was able to. Everywhere I have been employed, I have made it my duty to volunteer with them or gather a group to volunteer randomly in the community because I have moved a lot. Volunteering often connects you with people and families experiencing true hardships in their lives. By giving back and getting to know them, you can comfort them during a difficult time in their lives. Also, I have tried to be a good role model for my daughter to teach her to give back. I have gained new perspectives just from listening and conversing with someone I have met while volunteering. It reminds you to appreciate the truly important things in your life. For me, that’s family, friends, and a strong community. I find that I get back more than I give from these experiences.

How do you prepare yourself to endure difficult weather conditions?

I prepare for difficult weather by making sure my gas tank is full, my uniform is ready to go, and my pack and gear are on point. Texas is an unpredictable state, so you always have to be prepared for any kind of random weather. Always be self-sufficient. I also watch the weather to prepare appropriately with my gear. Always have plenty of water and snacks ready to go. Also, wearing my hat with my uniform protects my face and head from injury and sunburns. 

What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your time as a TEXSAR volunteer?

I have always lived by the “Golden Rule,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If a child or loved one is missing, you need help, and you have to rely on your community to help. By joining TEXSAR, I have met so many wonderful people. We have members that range from Lawyers, Retired Police, Emergency Management, EMTs to office personnel; I could go on and on. Each one contributes in so many ways and can look at a situation in different ways to help. I have trained in Flood, and Swift Water, Rescue Boat Operations, Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR), Navigation, Communications; these are all skills I would never learn on my day today, and I find it to be exciting and empowering. The significant benefit is completing my training alongside the most amazing people I have ever been honored to serve beside.

Volunteering increases self-confidence. The more we give, the happier we feel. We are doing good for others and the community, which provides a sense of accomplishment.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

–Mahatma Gandhi

What keeps you coming back as a TEXSAR volunteer?

Honestly, the TEXSAR members. I have been a member since 2016. I truly adore every one of them, and I like learning little bits about them each time I volunteer. I learn so much from each of them. A lot of our members have been through a lot of life tribulations but yet they show up every mission to give back and make a difference. I am honored to be surrounded by each and every one of them. This is why I show up and volunteer also I know I am one person, but as they say, “It takes one person to make a difference – one step at a time.”

What is your favorite item in your pack?

I know that this item doesn’t go IN my pack, but my favorite item in my pack. Also, another item not in my pack is my heated vest for wintertime. This item has been a lifesaver.

Main items water, compass, sunscreen and chappy.


Posted: 1/24/2022










Name: Ken Jamilosa, Gulf Coast – Assistant Division Leader
Year you Joined TEXSAR: 2015

Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born up in Indiana, but I spent a majority of my life and my formidable years growing up in Houston, so I do consider myself a Texan. By day, I work in Emergency Management at the county level and moonlight as an EMT for a local 911 service. I’m adventurous, I like challenges, and people, so I feel like TEXSAR is a great fit for me.

Was there a moment or an event in your life that made you realize you love helping people?

I’ve always enjoyed helping people, but it was really amplified after I joined TEXSAR and during one of my first deployments, which involved looking for missing loved ones. I love being able to contribute in any way that I can to a team whose mission is helping people when they need it the most.

What’s one the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your time as a TEXSAR volunteer?

Being part of TEXSAR has taught me many things, but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the value of dependability. I’m now part of a team that relies on me and puts a lot of trust in my actions and decisions. I don’t want to let them down, so I do my best to stay ready and always maintain a high level of integrity.

How have the last two year been working in public safety during COVID?

To say it’s been challenging is an understatement. I’ve seen the challenges of our local governments doing their best to manage their residents’ safety and I’ve seen the tireless efforts of our first responders and healthcare staff caring for their residents and patients alike. In my emergency management role, one of my tasks has been coordinating with our partner agencies to make sure their needs are constantly met. If they don’t have what they need, it can cause a breakdown somewhere in the system. As an EMS provider, I’ve experienced first hand how COVID has affected all levels of our community. It’s been a struggle to watch, but we do our best to keep our community safe.

What keeps you coming back as a TEXSAR volunteer?

TEXSAR’s mission and the great like-minded group of people that I get to work with of course! I believe in what our organization does and how we do it. I’ll keep coming back as long as I’m able-bodied, or until you all get tired of me (LOL)!

What is your favorite item in your pack?

My favorite item isn’t what’s in my pack, but it’s the pack itself (or, should I say “packs”). I have different setups for different types of missions. For example, I can take a lighter pack for missions like evidence searches, or a full pack for a missing person search. I can also add/remove things based on other factors like the weather, or length of time in the field.

Because of your adventurous nature, can you share with us your favorite hike or outdoor adventure?

My favorite hike that I’ve done is along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. It’s my favorite because the scenery was so different from start to finish. Also because it was challenging. There were plenty of hazards to navigate through and I had to be aware of the tides. If I didn’t, I could get stuck in a spot until the tide went down. I had the best time with my buddies. The trip was about 20 miles from start to finish and we made it all the way to the very end unscathed!