Tuesday, June 19, 2012

(MARIN CO) Volunteers a great return on investment, finds grand jury

by Jason Walsh - PacificSun.com

Finding people willing to work for free is a boon for the County, a Marin County Civil Grand Jury announced this week.

In fact, the jury reports, we're living in a veritable golden age for volunteerism in Marin County.

In its report, "Civic Center Volunteers Program: The Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs," the grand jury found that the onslaught of retiring baby boomers combined with the recession-led budget cuts and increase in unemployment has led to a "perfect storm" in regards to the needs and availability of volunteers.

As of 2010, a Civic Center volunteer financial impact report, estimated more than 8,000 people volunteering in county government, as compared to the county's 1,750 full-time employees.

"These volunteers work from a few hours a week to several days a week and, in many cases, they have been doing so for many years," reports the grand jury. "They volunteer in our libraries, health and human services, parks and open space, courts system, at public events and in numerous other areas.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that county government would be severely challenged if these people did not show up for work tomorrow."

The 2010 volunteer impact report also calculated the volunteer hours, if paid at a rate similar to temp workers, would have been valued at about $9 million.

To help keep up the good volunteer work the report recommends that: The Civic Center Volunteers program restore the administrative assistant position to a full-time permanent position; the person leading the Civic Center Volunteers program be given the authority of a county department manager; the Board of Supervisors continue its twice-yearly volunteer recognition ceremonies; a volunteer handbook be written to educate about responsibilities and liabilities; and the CCV staff continue to be actively involved in training and coordination of volunteers.

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