Volunteering helps connect residents with community - The Explorer: Oro Valley

Volunteering helps connect residents with community

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Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 3:00 am

Aging and volunteering can go together, according to Oro Valley Councilman Lou Waters, who hosted a Council on Your Corner event last week.

During the Oct. 13 gathering, Waters spoke to about 20 people, including Oro Valley residents, staff and fellow council members, about the importance of volunteering, and life after retirement.

Waters, a retired CNN journalist, admitted he initially had no idea what he was going to do with his life after retiring to Oro Valley.

“Here I was retired from CNN. I came here to Oro Valley and just found myself sitting in a strange place,” he said. “Volunteering allows you to get connected with your community.”

Waters said it was by chance that he got involved on a local level. Having coffee at McDonald’s one morning, Waters ran into several members of the Oro Valley Citizen Volunteer Assistants Program, which provides the opportunity for citizens to serve their community by assisting the police department in non-emergency situations.

That was all it took. Waters got involved and remained involved. He believes that citizens’ volunteer efforts improve a community.

Last year, Friends of the Oro Valley Public Library logged more than 14,000 volunteer hours, said Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath at his Oct. 6 State of the Town address. Using the state’s minimum wage rate, Hiremath calculated that equaled $100,000 in donated time.

The Oro Valley Police Department also has a strong volunteer base in the Citizens Volunteer Assistants Program. Its 80 members contributed an estimated 17,000 hours in volunteer time last year.

The program has become popular by managing the town’s Darkhouse initiative, which has volunteers visit homes of residents who are out of town for seven days or more.

They check for water leaks, obvious signs of criminal activity or any other signs of concern.

Volunteering adds purpose to retired life, according to Waters, who was elected to his first term on the council last year.

“I wouldn’t be a councilman now if it wasn’t for the fact that I volunteer,” he said.

Oro Valley’s history was built on volunteer service, said longtime resident Bill Adler, adding that it’s also important for residents to observe their municipal operations up close.

“Volunteer programs allow you to gain an understanding of our government,” he said. “By working with them you gain knowledge, respect and understanding of the government.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities in Oro Valley, or to fill out an application, visit the town’s website at http://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Town_Government/Human_Resources/volunteer_opportunities.htm.

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