I’m not a morning person. I hate getting up so much that it’s VERY fortunate I love my job since just having to make money to put food on the table may not be quite good enough to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning. Yet, each day we have hundreds of volunteers make the decision to get up and come work at a Virginia State Park without compensation.
Last year volunteers contributed more than 235,000 hours of work to Virginia State Parks. The Virginia Office of Volunteerism estimates the value of those hours at more than $4.6 million and the time represents the equivalent of 95 additional full time employees. That is an incredible impact to our operation – calculated either as a boost to our budget of 15% or a boost to our work force of 30%. In a year when we sustained a budget cut and hiring freeze, those volunteers were essential to the operation of Virginia State Parks.
But the passion and dedication of our Virginia State Parks volunteers exceeds these quantifiable measures. Their willingness to volunteer to support the Virginia State Parks mission inspires and boosts the morale and dedication of those of us that get paid to support that mission.
Some of our volunteers work quietly in the background – surveying wildlife, clearing trails – others have more public roles working at contact stations, visitor centers, serving as campground hosts. Some of our volunteers become part of “Friends of” groups who support the park with special projects and fund raising and work to strengthen the neighboring community’s support of the park. These organizations and individuals often also join and support the statewide Virginia Association for Parks. Whatever their role, each and every hour a volunteer spends in the park is greatly appreciated. There is really nothing we can ever do to thank them enough.
This past weekend at our Women’s Wellness Weekend, the Friends of Hungry Mother went out of their way to contribute to the success of the event. They sought and received a grant for financial support, provided breakfast for the participants and provided volunteers to support the event.
April is National Volunteer Month, so on this last day of April I wanted to express the deep gratitude we have for all of our volunteers. We couldn’t do it without them!
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can see our volunteer web page.