The adage “when you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it” came to mind last month while I was attending a volunteer recognition program at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse. Our Department of Community Services honored 32 individuals and 48 groups who volunteered a total of 875,000 hours in the health, senior services, animal control, elections, and parks and recreation divisions. The other 11 County departments and many elected officials’ offices use volunteers, too.
I figured out that 875,000 hours equals almost 100 years of non-stop, round-the-clock, 24/7 volunteering. Lois Allen – our “invisible volunteers” – put in a lot of those hours. She went home with two President’s Lifetime Achievement Awards that night – one for her work with the Gwinnett Parks Foundation and another as an individual. She was not alone receiving the lifetime achievement award that recognizes individuals and groups for completing 4,000 hours in their lifetime, but she also received the department’s Shining Star Award. Lois Allen is truly a busy person who believes in giving back to the people and places she loves.
Lois is a great example of how volunteers help your County government provide services above and beyond what we could do alone. Thanks to the fundraising events organized by the Gwinnett Parks Foundation, the County has been able to maintain and upgrade all sorts of parks equipment and facilities. Parks volunteers help plant trees or clear invasive vegetation at 50 parks and historic sites. They work in “park’nership” with local businesses and their employees to make a difference right here in Gwinnett.
If you’re too busy or don’t have time to help, you’re probably just the sort of person we need. A few years ago, we set up a website, www. volunteergwinnett.net, where people can find and sign up for volunteer opportunities all over Gwinnett County. You can offer to help at a single event or on an ongoing basis. The site takes both individuals and groups, too.
Volunteering is a perfect way to meet people and have fun while doing something worthwhile. A warning though – it is habit-forming. So whenever you want to feed that habit, you can sign up to pull litter out of streams, recycle old tires, plant trees and flowerbeds, spread mulch, organize youth athletic leagues, keep score, sell hot dogs, feed shelter cats and dogs, work a fun run, teach a kid to fish, or any of the hundreds of other volunteer opportunities you’ll find at volunteergwinnett.net.
Our goal is to log a million hours of volunteer service in Gwinnett County every year. Last year our volunteers gave an impressive 1.7 million hours of their time to county government and partner groups, so we may need to increase our goal! We’re definitely asking for your help again this year. All you have to do is step up and say yes.