Volunteers Are Vital
The trends are encouraging. A new report recently issued by the Corporation for National and Community Service says that despite these difficult economic times, more people are volunteering than ever before.
During our budget process, many concerned citizens have suggested that we increase our utilization of volunteers to help mitigate necessary reductions. As a result of our recent budget reductions, we are relying on our volunteers more than ever to help provide services that improve our quality of life. Right now, residents give the equivalent of $2,000,000 worth of services to our community by volunteering with Pinellas County government. We are working to double that figure to $4,000,000 in 2010 and we hope to reach the goal of $20,000,000 in the future.
We are thankful for our devoted volunteers and we are always looking for more. We partner with Pinellas County Schools, St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College, University of South Florida, various community groups, and we are linked with many volunteer search pages on the internet.
We are expanding volunteer opportunities throughout Pinellas County government. We always welcome residents who can share their administrative and office skills. Our parks and nature preserves benefit from the help of volunteers who like to work outdoors. Recently we've seen a quadrupling of volunteer hours at Fort DeSoto Park as park-goers, youth groups, and other concerned residents pitch in to help maintain this exceptional community asset. Volunteers share their business expertise by working with small business owners through our Economic Development office. Volunteers even help shape policy and administrative decisions by serving on a multitude of committees and advisory boards. Recently, the Board of County Commissioners appointed a 13-member panel to serve as the Charter Review Commission to evaluate our current county charter. Serving as volunteers, this panel, comprised of elected officials and private citizens, will make decisions that have the potential to affect the foundation of how our County government operates for many years to come.
We need all kinds of volunteers. We need volunteers for one-day events, volunteers who can give a few hours a month and volunteers who can volunteer weekly. We appreciate our volunteers, regardless of how much time they can give, and we like to celebrate extraordinary efforts of our volunteers. Recently, Heritage Village honored five special women who have volunteered at that facility for 30 years.
We welcome volunteers of all ages. Youth ages 12 to 17 can volunteer through the Junior Volunteer program. Families can include even younger children when they volunteer together.
Volunteering clearly benefits our County government and our community, and it benefits the individual as well. Volunteers learn new skills and keep existing skills sharp. Volunteers meet new people, gain new experiences, and expand the scope of their networking. Volunteers can be proud of contributing to their community in this way.
If you currently volunteer with Pinellas County government or through other venues in our community, thank you! If you do not, please consider doing so. Together we can make Pinellas County an even better place to live in spite of these difficult economic times.
You can call Pinellas County Volunteer Services division at (727) 464-3945 or go online to http://www.pinellascounty.org/volserv.
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