NAVPLG Awards Recap!
At our meeting during the National Conference on Volunteering & Service in Seattle this summer, NAVPLG presented two awards to acknowledge excellence in our field to LeeAnn Harvey with the City of Decatur, Georgia and the City of San Jose, California.
The City of San Jose received the Innovative Program Award for their program “The Sunday Series.” The City of San Jose is the 10th largest city in the United States, but has one of the smallest budgets for its 200+ neighborhood parks. Due to the lack of funds, the Volunteer Management Unit was established to help bridge the gap between the needs of the park and the energy of the residents!
The idea of The Sunday Series was born out of a need to keep our city parks green, clean and safe. City residents were eager to help. Additionally, there was a need to have opportunities for families to volunteer, as well as teens and environmental enthusiasts. With the completion of the third round of this 10-week series, each series was tweaked just a bit, to improve the program. Although the initial series had the events in the afternoon, the temperature became an issue because it was too hot! Therefore, we switched it to the mornings and have found victory! Each series is 10 weeks in length so that each one of our Council Districts can co-sponsor the event. This brings recognition to the Council Member! Family volunteer opportunities must be short, in order to keep the interest and focus of the children: therefore, these events are just 2.5 hours. It was discovered that many people want to volunteer, although they don’t have time to make an on-going commitment. The Sunday Series gives them the opportunity to come out and help—and be done! The program has fulfilled many needs within the community!
The Volunteer Management Program has a Tool Trailer which is brought to each event. The Tool Trailer contains hundreds of tools for any type of volunteer work. This aids in making the program flexible and portable—volunteers can simply show up—they do not need to bring their own tools or even gloves. All supplies and training are provided, so those that have never been exposed to gardening, landscaping or simply using agricultural tools—can experience something new and/or perfect their skills. At the Municipal Rose Garden, volunteers listen to our unique way of pruning/deadheading and then can practice on the 3,500 rose bushes. By working together, the roses keep blooming and the volunteers enjoy the outdoor work! Once the event is over, the volunteers can see that they made quite a big difference-- right in their local park!
The Sunday Series Volunteer Events are advertised through social media and the unit’s newsletter. By targeting different recruitment sites, diverse populations are informed and encouraged to get involved. Attendance has averaged 15 volunteers per week, which is almost equivalent to a week of full time staff labor. Data from the 3 Series demonstrates success: over 1,100 hours of volunteer service have been donated. Using the California value of volunteer time, $27.59 (IndependentSector.org) the value of the Sunday Series is over $10,000! With meager budgets and tons of volunteer interest, the Sunday Series is a Win-Win-Win for the city, the volunteers and the residents who enjoy the fruits of their labor!
LeeAnn Harvey was presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Administrator Award for her work in the City of Decatur, Georgia. LeeAnn is a past NAVPLG President. Her work in Decatur has included organizing volunteers for many special events and also the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. In the last few years her position has changed to focus on working with seniors with Decatur’s Lifelong Community program. Lifelong Community assists with transportation, housing, communication and Decatur Neighbors, where neighbors help one another. We appreciate LeeAnn’s years of service to NAVPLG and recognize her professional excellence.