EDITORIAL: Volunteers keep schools, governments humming
- The fact is, some officials say, in many cases if a volunteer doesn’t do the job, the job doesn’t get done.
- "I can’t stress enough that we can’t do certain events at the school without parent volunteer help."
- For a municipality like York, a lack of volunteers means government business can grind to a halt.
If you want to do your civic duty and make a difference, by all means run for office.
Heaven knows voters deserve to see more good candidates on the ballot.
But if you don’t have the time or stomach for a campaign, you can still help your community. In fact, all you have to do is raise your hand.
No, “volunteer” doesn’t have the same sexy ring as, say, “councilman” or “school board director,” but it’s a crucial position in many a municipality and school district.
The fact is, some officials say, in many cases if a volunteer doesn’t do the job, the job doesn’t get done.
In schools, that means if a parent isn’t willing to chip in a few hours, the students might not be able to take a field trip or they won’t have that bit of extra, personal attention in the classroom.
"I can’t stress enough that we can’t do certain events at the school without parent volunteer help," said Megan Landis, the PTO vice president for Dallastown Elementary. "Even if it’s just an hour or half an hour, it makes it well worth it. And it’s very fun."
Still, several districts in York County report they are struggling to attract enough volunteer parents.
For a municipality like York City, a lack of people willing to sit on volunteer boards means building plans could be delayed or complaints about discrimination might not be heard in a timely manner.
The city's planning commission is one of several city boards that have vacancies and continue to seek volunteers to provide a crucial role in governing York City.
Recently, only two York City Planning Commission members showed up to their August meeting, which caused the meeting to be canceled on the spot.
The planning commission can have as many as seven members, but right now, it only has four who come to meetings regularly.
The city's Human Relations Commission, which historically has struggled to attract and keep members, has eight of 11 spots filled. The Zoning Hearing Board has four of five seats filled, the Historical Architecture Review Board has six of seven seats, and the consolidated board of appeals has two of three.
For the most part, the city's boards require little to no experience. All one needs to fill any of those open seats is to live in the city and have an interest. The board members are appointed by Mayor Kim Bracey and confirmed by city council.
The city is doing its best to find volunteers for all the open positions, said Shilvosky Buffaloe, the city's interim director of economic and community development.
"The city of York is actively looking for residents and community members to participate," Buffaloe said, adding he tries to ask organizations he deals with they know of anyone looking to get involved with the city.
With schools, it can be a little more complicated because, depending on the type of activity parents want to help with, the prospective volunteers might need to seek several state and federal clearances.
Still, Landis said she obtained all of the federal clearances to be able to volunteer for anything the school district might need. She said the district made the process very easy by providing all the information on its website. She was cleared to volunteer in approximately two weeks.
Volunteering does require some effort and definitely some commitment, but, as Landis noted, it's well worth it in the long run.
So in the words of Buffaloe, "Jump in, the water’s fine. It’s not a bad thing to be part of the solution."