Opinion

GUEST OPINION | Volunteer and make a difference in the community

April is Community Volunteer Month in Marysville, a time to celebrate those individuals and groups who make a difference in our community in ways big and small, and to inspire and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to get more engaged in the community.

Marysville is graced by a diverse collection of hard-working and selfless individuals who answer the call to volunteer, and they do so humbly without asking for anything in return. They are often the voice for — or the driving force behind — initiatives, actions and decisions that make Marysville an even more livable city.

Volunteerism strengthens our community, addresses social problems, and enhances the overall quality of life for all citizens, including children, seniors, those who are disabled, the impoverished, the imprisoned, the homeless, the physically or mentally ill, or those otherwise in need of assistance.

When you become a volunteer, it tends to be life-changing, increasing self-confidence, self-esteem and physical wellbeing. You work side by side with new friends and associates, and put skills and abilities to the test that you might not even have known you had.

One of the sometimes overlooked benefits of volunteer service to a community is that it helps to conserve taxpayer dollars, all the more helpful during difficult economic times

Volunteers in Marysville annually have donated more than 12,150 hours of time to make a meaningful difference for our community, equivalent to $243,000 in added value to the City.

This figure includes Serve Day events bringing local churches together; Parks and Recreation-led projects; Adopt-a-Street cleanups, crime prevention through the Marysville Volunteer Program (MVP) corps; the Ken Baxter Community Center; coaches and supporters who donate time to basketball, soccer and baseball youth leagues; and the City’s many boards and commissions.

While this is an astounding display of good works, the numbers don’t even begin to factor in all the additional volunteer hours donated through service clubs and civic groups, churches and schools, and larger mission-based organizations like the United Way, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club.

In September 2010, I initiated a new Volunteer of the Month program to publicly recognize Marysville’s unsung heroes. Since that time, we have honored several individuals and groups that run the spectrum of ages, from an active senior citizen, Given Kutz, who reads to Liberty Elementary students to our youngest recipient, Michael Thomas, a 15-year-old student who earned the rank of Eagle Scout for his donation of self-constructed learning games — as well as books — to local preschools.

I encourage young people to get involved. You’re never too young to get started. Look at another example, Christian Hauer, who last summer completed his own Eagle Scout dream of getting a flying disc golf course built at Strawberry Fields Athletic Park, with supportive parents and guidance from our Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew. With support from parents and other adults who can help mentor our young people, young people have the capacity to do big things with impactful results.

This spring and summer, it would be great to see more volunteers out in our community than ever before. Many local organizations need volunteer support, and there are plenty of opportunities ahead for you to give your time and talents to a great cause. Here are just a few examples that you will hear more about in the coming weeks, through City communications and the media:

  • Graffiti Paint Out - this first-ever event on Saturday, May 14 will mobilize neighbors to eliminate graffiti “hot spots” around our community.
  • Arbor Day Tree Planting on April 29 in various parks and public rights of way. Become a contributor to Marysville’s Tree City USA Award Program.
  • Earth Day Celebration – Join the Allen/Quilceda Watershed (AQWA) Team on Saturday, April 30 at Jennings Nature Park to plant native trees and shrubs and remove invasive blackberries to improve fish habitat and water quality.
  • Form an Adopt-a-Street group to cleanup a stretch of local roadway.
  • Volunteer for a Marysville Dog Owners Group work party the third Saturday of each month (weather permitting) at Strawberry Fields for Rover Off-Leash Park.
  • Join the men and women of the local crime prevention group, Marysville Volunteers Program (MVP), which performs school, neighborhood and park patrols; vacation house checks; illegal sign removal; and coordinates the Neighborhood Watch Program.
  • Volunteer your time at the Ken Baxter Community Center.
  • Adopt-a-Park assisting in the maintenance of one of our neighborhood or community parks.

For more information about becoming a Marysville Volunteer, contact Parks Maintenance Manager Mike Robinson at 360-363-8406 or email mrobinson@marysvillewa.gov.

As Mayor, I have no doubt that Marysville community members can achieve anything that we collectively put our minds, hands and hearts to. Thank you to the many volunteers in our community who continually enhance the quality of life for all of us.

Mayor Jon Nehring can be reached at mayor@marysvillewa.gov.

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