Citizen of the Year

During the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce’s 53rd Annual Awards Banquet, held on Monday, November 8, Kernersville Police Department (KPD) Officer Sean Houle was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award.
Allan Younger, director of the Small Business Center at Forsyth Technical Community College and the emcee for the evening, shared more information about the Citizen of the Year Award, as Chamber CEO and President Chris Comer presented Houle with the award.
“Each year, the Chamber recognizes the Citizen of the Year for contributions made to the community during the current year. The winner of this award puts his life on the line every day for our Kernersville community,” Younger said. “He is a warrior, a God loving family man, an amazing mentor and a walking miracle.”
He continued.
“I’d like to recognize our 2021 Citizen of the Year – Officer Sean Houle,” Younger announced.
Upon receiving the award, Houle said he was very honored and surprised. Houle was accompanied to the event by KPD Chief Tim Summers.
“The chief called me one day and asked if I could meet him at the Chamber, but he told me he couldn’t tell me what was going on. So, I met him up there and that’s when they surprised me with the award,” he said. “It was a great honor.”
Houle said the award just further exemplified the love and support that has been shown by Kernersville and all the people in it.
“It’s uncommon in other places around the country, when you think about how many police officers there are in the huge number of communities, for something to happen and there be support. So, to see this huge amount of support from everyone from the beginning, especially during recovery, helped me,” he said. “It’s so mind blowing that this stuff is still continuing. This happened in February and we’re in November. That just shows how strong the community is and it shows the pure love and support for law enforcement, which is huge for the law enforcement here in Kernersville.”
Houle grew up in Winston-Salem and now lives in Stokes County with his wife, Ellie, and two sons, Tucker, 5, and Tanner, 1.
After high school, Houle worked for EMS and was stationed at Station 41 in Kernersville. He then joined the police force and worked for the Winston-Salem Police Department for five years before coming on board at the KPD in 2016.
Houle, who is still recovering months later, was shot three times in the line of duty on February 21, 2021. He was shot in the face, his arm and hand with his gun, according to the KPD. The incident occurred when Houle was taking someone home after they had been released from custody after running away from a traffic stop earlier that day.
Houle was rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Heath, where he underwent multiple surgeries. Houle was released into his wife’s care a month later.
Houle explained that he has been on quite the journey since getting out of the hospital.
“A lot of the reason they released me from the hospital when they did is because my wife is a nurse and they leaned a lot on her to take care of me,” he said, noting that he still had a trach tube and staples in him and dressing that needed to be packed and unpacked. “They put a lot of that on my wife and she welcomed it because she wanted me to be home.”
Houle said there was a lot of care that needed to be done. While he was released from full care in the hospital, Houle said he continued to be in and out of the hospital for doctor appointments.
“It’s been a whirlwind to say the least,” he remarked.
Houle said he is still out on workers compensation and going through various therapies. He said one of his most major injuries was a large stroke that caused damage on the right side of his brain, affecting his cognitive functions, decision making and problem solving, short-term memory, multi-tasking and reaction time.
“Because all of those things were affected and how those things are important in the job of a police officer, the doctors told me that I cannot do this job anymore. So, per the recommendations of all of my doctors, I will be medically retiring at the end of this year,” he shared. “It has been a difficult discussion because this job is what I have known and loved for the past 10 years. I’ve had fun doing it and I felt like I was making a difference by getting guns, drugs and violent people off of the streets.”
Houle further noted that his dream job was getting to work with a K9.
“Knowing that all of this is going away is difficult to process because it’s such a big part of me. I have a big heart for service – helping and serving people,” he said. “In the beginning, when things were first told to me, I felt like I was losing my sense of purpose, but that’s where God and my faith have been a big part, because without that, I don’t know that I would be able to process and go on with the realization of all of what has gone on.”
Houle said God has given him a different purpose to be an encouragement to people and help people in a different way.
More recently, Houle has gotten involved with Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Ministries.
“They have a lot of programs out there that assist law enforcement and they do a lot for them. One of the things they did for me was send me on a trip through Operation Heal Our Patriots,” he said. “They send injured officers (10 couples) to Alaska for a week of spiritual and mental healing and minster to and love on them. It was unbelievable.”
Houle said going forward, he would like to continue to get involved with the ministry. He would also like to do speaking events and continue to be an encouragement for people.
“It’s easy to get down on things, but I want to try to be the light and lift people up. I want to let them know that God is looking out for us and to encourage people to lean on others and be a light for other people,” he said. “I want to encourage our veterans and officers that when things get tough, instead of turning to bad things, to be a rock to lean on and encourage them to make better choices, and encourage them to do the same for others.”

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