Most of us have no idea of the many faces of volunteerism in our city. The nature and scope of governmental activities utilizing volunteers, those freely undertaking tasks without being paid, is truly awesome and not a little inspirational.
There is some awareness of the volunteers filling our standard boards and commissions because many of their decisions are part of the transparency required by law.
These include the Planning Commission, Design Review Board, Community Services Commission, Measure Q Oversight Committee, Personnel Board, Downtown Concord Specific Plan Ad Hoc Steering Committee, Parks, Recreation & Open Space Commission, Appeals Board, and the Concord/Pleasant Hill Health Care District. Oh yes, don't let me forget the Commission on Aging.
We also have city volunteers, or representatives, on the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority Advisory Committee, Contra Costa County Aviation Advisory Committee, county Mosquito and Vector Control District, and the county's Transportation Authority Citizens' Advisory Committee, Library Commission, and the Iron Horse Corridor Management Program Advisory Committee.
Please excuse the cliché, but we truly have not even scratched the surface. A group of volunteers critical to Concord is the V.I.P.S. (Volunteers in Police Services).
Those serving in this program are committed to assisting our Police Department in its goal of enhancing community safety, protecting life and property, and reducing crime, including the fear of crime.
They build better community relations by giving the public the opportunity to become more familiar with services provided by the Police Department as well as a better understanding of the inner working of the department.
To date, we have 106 VIPS, which includes 16 cadets. These volunteers serve 36 police programs, and more are being added. VIPS contributed more than 17,000 hours this year alone. One of these volunteers is Tim Grayson, Concord's vice mayor, who serves as the chaplain to the Concord Police Department. He is literally on call 24 hours a day.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was developed in 2008. In 2011, our department acquired a unique, talented group of volunteers who contribute more than 5,000 hours annually to this program which promotes preparedness, developed a plan for neighborhoods to communicate during disasters, and conducts neighborhood functional exercises.
Another of the 36 programs is the Parks Steward Program, created to help manage the city's 27 parks and playgrounds, which are spread over almost 32 square miles.
It was designed to maintain a presence in Concord parks. The VIPS work in teams of two and have become ambassadors, educators and outreach workers. This is a valuable service.
Most of these 36 programs are supervised by Concord personnel who accept these responsibilities in addition to their regular jobs. The Emergency & Volunteer Services manager is Margaret Romiti.
This year, 65 volunteers from Chevron worked in Markham Nature Park for three hours over a three-day period cleaning creek beds, adding mulch and installing engraved plant identification signs to enhance the International Garden. The Markham Regional Arboretum Society organizes the event which is supported by the Parks Division staff.
This spring, three Boy Scout Eagle projects are planned in Concord parks. Max Burgermeister from Troop 484 will be installing a split-rail fence around a protected tree which is located in the Sleep Train Pavilion parking lot. A protected tree is one more than 300 years old.
Scout Timothy Downing from Troop 317 will be installing a split-rail fence around a Newhall Park protected tree located in the rear of the new playground. And Patrick Jaime, also from Troop 317, will be creating a new pathway in Markham Park.
In addition to these three projects, other Scouts from Troop 317 will be volunteering their time at Markham Park to reinforce the dedication bricks in the gazebo area with sand. They will also install new header boards around the crape myrtle trees.
Finally, a few additional programs: The Mt. Diablo Unified School District parents need to be recognized and congratulated for their efforts in transforming Centre Concord into a wonderland for the Grad Nite tradition; Arbor Day draws a crowd of volunteers at many schools; and for the past 23 years Camp Concord has been the beneficiary of the proceeds from a golf tournament thanks to the superb leadership of David Goldman and Channel 7's incomparable Dan Ashley.
I don't have the space to continue, so let it suffice to say that hundreds of volunteers save Concord tens of thousands of dollars each year. We simply could not operate without our volunteers. God bless them all.
Helix is the mayor of Concord. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.