Q&A: Columbia Neighborhood Services Manager

What do you think people can gain out of donating their time to volunteerism?

There are many benefits to volunteering. Each person is unique in why they volunteer and what they get out of it – and sometimes they leave with more than they expect! People volunteer to help others, to get to know their community and meet new people, make a difference and have fun! Many volunteers are able to get a life experience that is much different than that they do for employment, and that is appealing. The City of Columbia provides unique opportunities to gain ownership in our local community and make an impact in a broad way. The work done in our parks or along our streets is enjoyed by the entire community, and the work our boards and commissions do influences policies and programs throughout local government.

Can you talk a little bit about the importance of volunteers to some programs in the city?

Volunteers allow the City of Columbia to get things accomplished that we could not do otherwise. In our last fiscal year, volunteers shared more than 34,000 hours of service which is an incredible contribution. Volunteers help keep our City looking great by beautifying our right of way and picking up litter along our streets and in our parks. Volunteers help us hold many special events and festivals as well as programs for kids and families in our Parks & Recreation and Health Departments. They help the City promote recycling and waste reduction and also extend the resources of our Police and Fire Departments. There are many things volunteers do that would simply go undone without the time and energy shared by volunteers.

If someone wanted to get involved and find an opportunity for themselves how might they do so?

The City of Columbia website is the best source for opportunities in the City – www.GoColumbiaMo.com/Volunteer. Over the last few years we have updated our online volunteer management system to make it easier for volunteers to sign up for our scheduled events. Residents can also call us at 874-7499. There are also many other community resources for volunteering including the Voluntary Action Center or the United Way. There is a great online tool, volunteermatch.com, to help find volunteer opportunities as well.

Are there any programs that have an extra need for volunteers at this time?

Spring is a great time for those interested in volunteering as we have many opportunities! We will be holding a training session for our Recycling Ambassadors program on February 25. Parks volunteer programs will hold trainings in March – March 19 for TreeKeepers and March 15 & 22 for the Columbia Aquatic Restoration Project or CARP. Cleanup Columbia, a city-wide litter pick up event, will be held April 9. Soon we will be starting a new volunteer program to remove illegal signs from along our streets. There are many events and activities that start this spring, and there are always opportunities for volunteers to Adopt A Spot for litter control or beautification. We would love to hear from people interested in volunteering with the City of Columbia.

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