Wrangell does its best work with volunteers

Wrangell certainly has its challenges. Those include a shortage of housing and available workers, weather-damaged and age-worn public buildings that need millions of dollars in repairs, limited state ferry service that makes it hard to send out a vehicle for fixes or to bring in independent summer travelers for vacations.

Despite the challenges, the community has a lot going for it — led by its volunteers. It seems there isn’t an event, activity or program in town that happens without them.

Monday’s Fix-It Clinic, put together by WCA’s Tl’átk – Earth Branch, was all about volunteers helping people learn to patch, repair and restore old or broken items back to usable form. No sense throwing away what can be kept out of a landfill with some help from volunteer instructors showing the way with the right parts, pieces and tools.

Sometimes, volunteers respond to callouts such as the Fix-It Clinic. Other times, they see the need and get into gear on their own — such as a new group of community repair activists, the “Differentials.” The mechanically inclined group is showing people how to drain and prep their unusable, unrepairable vehicles for the scrap metal yard.

Most often, the entire organization runs on volunteers, such as BRAVE, a domestic violence prevention organization whose name stands for Building Respect and Valuing Everyone. The group is putting together its sixth annual Family Resilience Fair for Oct. 14 at the Nolan Center, looking to bring together information, community resources and social services providers for the day, along with games and prizes.

Of course, volunteers can always use more help, and BRAVE is inviting community groups that want to participate or set up a booth at the fair to come to a planning meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, at the public library.

But just like in a school classroom, it can’t be the same people raising their hand all the time. Every organization is aware of the risk of burning out and using up the same pool of volunteers. To that end, calls for new sign-ups are as frequent as bake sales and rummage sales in town.

The parks and recreation department, which manages the swimming pool, parks, exercise programs and multiple recreational activities, recently issued a call for more volunteers. “If everyone offers a little bit of their time, the same 10 people aren’t having to volunteer all year-round,” said Devyn Johnson, recreation coordinator for the borough department.

That’s the point. If you haven’t volunteered recently, now is a good time to look around, see what is needed and step up. The community will appreciate it.

— Wrangell Sentinel


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