Volunteerism in the 21st century

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Fix

Westfield Parks &Recreation Dept. is getting technical with volunteerism. The department is in the process of getting on board the technology train and implementing an online volunteer management program through the City of Westfield’s Web site.

Stephanie Fix, Westfield Parks & Recreation Dept. administrative assistant, said the Web site allows people to go in and check volunteer opportunities in the department, such as Arbor Day and Westfield Rocks the Fourth.

“It’s an easy way to show all our volunteer opportunities, including job descriptions,” Fix said. “Volunteers can visit the Volunteer Information Center, where they can actually manage their volunteer schedule, sign up for shifts and see who else is volunteering. It’s an easy way for them to track their hours.”

Jones

Melody Jones, Parks& Recreation Dept. director, said the digital database not only increases convenience for volunteers, but it’s a program that will help track volunteers and give the department a chance to recognize their service to the community.

“It’s a great tool for us because we have so many people volunteering, and we don’t have a way to track them. We didn’t even know who volunteered last year,” Jones said. “With this program, we can track volunteers so we can develop a volunteer recognition program honoring their work.”

Jones said the program will increase communication within the city.

“We’re looking at different forms of technology. We’re working with the informatics department to set up a touch screen check-in and check-out system on the iPad,” Jones said.

Jones said there will be other ways to track volunteerism hours besides signing up for shifts.

“Volunteers can also report volunteerism hours. For example, Plant A Row spent a ton of hours planting, watering, harvesting and delivering,but they really had no way of tracking their hours,” Jones said. “This program allows them to add their hours, and it’s a better way of tracking for their purposes and ours.”

Jones said increasing volunteerism could potentially stem from introducing new technology into the department’s well-established programs.

“We think it will put in a whole new dimension to our department with being able to utilize volunteers and making it really workable for them.”

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