San Mateo’s Volunteer Program Continues to Expand
From the Japanese Garden to the Police Station’s front desk, San Mateo volunteers fill a variety of roles and bring tremendous value to the community.
San Mateo volunteers take on many unique, meaningful, and sometimes quirky assignments. Consider Bernice Baumgarten (pictured above in the center with friends) who came to our volunteer program 18 years ago through Wednesday Afternoon Bingo at the Senior Center – she is dubbed “Bingo Caller Extraordinaire.”
The breadth of volunteer assignments represents the expansiveness of the San Mateo community, and the Senior Center is only one of the many volunteer opportunities with the city. Erik Rivera is a youth volunteer serving on the Youth Activities Council. Others support programs at the San Mateo Library by sorting books or serving as a tutor for Project Read, while some prefer to work outside and help with minor weeding and the daily feeding of the Koi fish tasks at the Japanese Garden. And there’s no shortage of office work; some volunteers fill more traditional roles by providing administrative support at City Hall or front counter customer service at the Police Station.
Since 2011, the Citywide volunteer program has seen consistent growth. During the 2015-16 fiscal year, the average number of quarterly volunteers reached an all-time high of 1,793; collectively, city volunteers provide 86,597 hours of service resulting in a record-breaking in-kind value of $2,040,225 during the past fiscal year.
Many factors contribute to the success and growth of the volunteer engagement program. During the past fiscal year, both
internal and external communication efforts have expanded. Internally, departmental volunteer champions meet quarterly to collaborate on city-wide volunteer opportunities. Externally, social media and direct communication channels such as Nextdoor, email blasts, Twitter and Instagram are used to communicate with existing volunteers and recruit new volunteers.
“It’s incredible to see the growing number of volunteers participating in community events and supporting many city initiatives,” says San Mateo City Manager, Larry Patterson. “Given the success of the volunteer engagement program over the past few years, it’s clear that many residents and businesses want to give back to the San Mateo community.”
To recognize its success, the San Mateo City Council will highlight the program during the October 17th City Council Meeting and recognize select Outstanding Volunteer Honorees. In addition to highlighting ten individuals for their volunteer contributions, the city will also, for the first time, acknowledge a company for outstanding volunteer service.
The Visa Volunteer Group is the first corporate group to receive an honor for their participation in volunteer engagement and providing outstanding community service. Visa volunteer groups, including the Visa Asian Employee Network, participate in community events both large and small including the 25th Avenue Holiday Spruce Up, the Autumn Moon Festival, the Generation Walk for Wellness, and the Laurelwood Park Cleanup.
Council will recognize the following ten individuals Bernice Baumgarten, Erik Rivera, Sheila Luttringer, Lee Correy, Mary Lou Dragonryder, Shelby Wright, Steven Cady, Karen Herrel, Marie Brown, and Sherri Bade, as well as the Visa volunteer groups.
Volunteerism throughout the City of San Mateo continues to grow, and it has become a key component for encouraging community engagement while connecting residents and city staff to one another in a meaningful way. For more information about volunteer opportunities with the city, please visit Volunteer Source on the city’s website.
“Community involvement is a large part of what makes San Mateo a great city,” says San Mateo Mayor, Joe Goethals. “Our volunteers provide a variety of services throughout the organization and community. We are grateful for the support and positive energy they provide. Thank you for all you bring to the city of San Mateo.”