Volunteers help beautify the city, run vital services and get important background work done, and the city of Arlington is recognizing them throughout April.
Volunteers are being recognized on the city’s social media pages as well as at City Council meetings through the month.
“We think that volunteers are part of the key culture of Arlington,” said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert. “Whether it is helping curb appeal or doing things that are not as visible such as serving on the boards and commissions of the city."
Last year the city received more than 2,700 hours of volunteer service that helped the community in a variety of ways, said Tolbert.
“There are many ways that people volunteer,” she said. “Some of the ways are more visible than others.”
Most of the well-known volunteer efforts are initiatives to build community projects or beautify the city.
“The most visibly impactful project this last year was the Legion Park stage,” said Tolbert.
The stage was funded entirely through donations and built by volunteer labor and has been used in numerous events that take place in downtown Legion Park and encouraged more concerts there as well.
Other volunteer groups make sure that the city is kept beautiful and maintained.
“Many of our faith-based organizations around the city help weed and clean up many of the areas around the city,” said Tolbert.
“Some volunteers also help run some of the critical services of our community,” said Tolbert, including the Arlington Community Food Bank and the Arlington Emergency Cold Weather Shelter.
Tom Davidson is a frequent volunteer for the local food bank.
“My neighbor was a driver here and told me I should get involved,” he said. “I started one day a week, then it became two, and now I’m up to three days each week.”
Volunteers there help organize the food, make sure it is ready for clients and also help clients navigate the food bank.
“How are the people who need food and can’t afford it, going to get it? Someone’s got to come out and sort it, dispense it, makes sure it gets out,” said Davidson.
He said he enjoys working with the clients and the volunteers there.
There are also many volunteers who do vita work for the city, said Tolbert, such as those who serve on city's commissions, such as the Planning Commission or the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission.
The Planning Commission “looks at design reviews to make sure that new buildings adhere to the design standards of the city,” said Tolbert.
Those on the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission also help provide input on the future direction of the city’s parks.
“Those steelies [salmon art pieces] on 67th Avenue that fill the median were picked out by our commission,” she said.
Other volunteers, like Al Lehman, help with administrative tasks. Lehman assists the Arlington Police Department by volunteering at the front desk of the Arlington Police Department.
“I’ve kind of been interested in law enforcement. I spent 40 years in the grocery business, often in stores that had a lot of issues so I got to know some of the police officers quite well,” said Lehman.
“It’s a tough job for them and if I can do a little bit to help them out, that’s a good thing,” he said.
Lehman said he enjoys hearing about what is happening throughout the town.
“You get to hear the stories and see some of the stuff that goes on. It’s interesting hearing how strange some of the people are,” he said.
The city of Arlington plans to continue honoring volunteers throughout the month.
“Volunteers are really the VIP for Arlington,” said Tolbert. “We appreciate all their efforts to improve Arlington."