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Community volunteers need respect
Community volunteers add a certain kind of value to any project or program they work on or assist with. They donate money, they hold fund-raisers and many times they add hours, days, months or years of their own physical labor and personal time.
Community volunteers should be respectfully and effectively utilized. Partnership opportunities should not be dropped, missed or squandered due to a lack of clearly defined and easy to access posted policy.
This past week it was announced that the second phase of the Gateway Clean-up project that was scheduled for Saturday, April 26 was going to be cancelled and rescheduled for Saturday, May 3 instead.
The April 26 date was selected back in February and the city even put forward a flyer for the event that since then has been posted and distributed amongst individuals, service groups and private organizations throughout the community.
The reason given by the city administration for rescheduling this event was that the April 26 date conflicted with the opening day of fishing season. Excuse me?
Frankly that reason just smells fishy to me. That pun is fully and deliberately intended.
The city of Bremerton currently lacks a clear, concise and easily accessible policy that speaks to donations, memorials and community partnerships that include volunteers.
A little research of nearby communities shows that many have addressed the need for outside assistance in the wake of economic downturns and public budget reductions.
The city of Port Angeles is a wonderful example that could easily be adapted where needed to fit the city of Bremerton. They have two different documents that are available through their city website.
One speaks to donations and memorials. This document was adopted in 2005 and outlines specific types of donations, the roles of both the city and those who are donating, document requirements such as Memorandum of Understandings as well as the up front requirement that a life cycle care fund be established for the maintenance required for the life span of the memorial or donated property. (View it at www.ci.port-angeles.wa.us/PDFs/Parks&Rec/MemorialsPolicy.pdf)
The other important and established document speaks to community partnerships, sponsorships and volunteer activities. This document outlines the review process of the associated city parks and recreation committees as well as the final approval process. (View it at www.ci.port-angeles.wa.us/PDFs/Recreation/Sponsorship%20Program.pdf)
It is past time that the city of Bremerton established a policy to define, cover and establish a basic set of rules, requirements and limitations associated with donations and memorials. A clearly defined policy on citizen driven volunteer efforts and scheduling rules for such events also needs to be established immediately.
Please contact the Bremerton City Council by email at City.Council@ci.bremerton.wa.us. Let them know how you feel about the handling of the Gateway Clean up No. 2 being rescheduled. Tell them how you feel about the need to establish a clear and defined city policy that keeps the roles, rules and requirements in focus for both the city and its potential volunteers or donors.
Colleen Smidt is a longtime area resident and writes weekly about matters affecting Bremerton