Parks and Rec seeks to add more community volunteers

Do you love playing sports, spending time outdoors or working with kids? Do you take advantage of Wrangell’s many recreational opportunities and feel a desire to give back? If so, you are likely the type of person the parks and recreation department is looking for. The department put out a call to the community on Aug. 14, seeking residents to volunteer for its many activities, programs and events.

The majority of Parks and Recreation programs, from water aerobics to wrestling camp, are run by volunteers, explained Recreation Coordinator Devyn Johnson. After just five months in the department, she’s already had around 30 to 40 people volunteer. “It is incredible,” she said of the turnout. “That just shows where Wrangell’s priority is … it’s giving back.”

That said, the department doesn’t want to overwork a small sector of extra-committed volunteers. To avoid burning out its mainstays, staff hopes to expand the volunteer base, then organize potential volunteers by availability and skillset so that it can take some pressure off the regulars.

“I want everyone to put in their time,” Johnson said. “If everyone offers a little bit of their time, the same 10 people aren’t having to volunteer all year round.”

Additional volunteers will allow staff to “pull from a pool of people, rather than having to reach out to the same people over and over again,” she said.

Volunteering is for anyone who likes working with youth or has a passion they want to share with the community. The activity can provide valuable experience, particularly for young people. Volunteer basketball coaches, for example, get to learn the ropes by watching older, more experienced coaches in action.

Michael Baina has been volunteering as a water aerobics instructor for years and now that the pool is open, her classes are restarting. She leads full-body workouts for all ages and personally curates playlists for each session. Volunteering “just makes you feel good,” she said. It’s “something that you’re doing for the community, something that you can offer. … You meet people that (you) never would have met. You enlarge your community.”

Tory Houser started volunteering about six years ago as a lifeguard for open swim. Since then, she’s also helped out with basketball, baseball and ballet. “The biggest thing I love is getting to do ballet in the community,” she said. “It’s my absolute favorite, just to see all those young people trying out something new.”

She doesn’t have much experience in basketball and baseball, but you don’t have to be an expert to help out, she added. “You just have to want to be there.”

But the joy of giving back isn’t the only thing that volunteers receive — they are also eligible for more material perks like passes to the pool based on the frequency of their volunteering.

Typically, Parks and Rec volunteers are either teens or seniors — Johnson would also love to see young adults and middled aged folks to share their time and talents.

To sign up for the volunteer program, call Parks and Recreation at 907-874-2444.


Reader Comments(0)