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Hall parks agency offers incentive for volunteers
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Those who volunteer often say the satisfaction of a job well done is payment enough, but now there’s a new program for those that need a little extra encouragement.

Hall County Parks and Leisure Services is introducing a new program to reward those who give their time to the community. The program awards volunteers for every hour served with a “Park Buck” that can be applied to the cost of a facility rental fee, fitness memberships, campsite or other approved use. The park bucks will provide $1 credit for each hour worked.

“I think it’s a really good incentive to people. They’re able to volunteer but they’re also earning the park bucks and can get something back for that,” Rozalyn Schmitt, facility manager at Mulberry Creek Community Center, said.
The program was developed in response to budget cuts the department suffered last year.

“With the staff being reduced and last year’s budget, this was a good way to fill some of those holes and get some help,” said Mike Little, Director of Hall County Parks and Leisure Services.

Little said it isn’t unusual for park services to have volunteer programs, but the extent of this one is a first for the department. He said the program may carry over to other departments once it becomes better established.

“Our whole department is excited about it and we’re hoping that it will be very successful and we expect it to be,” Little said.

Based on previous interest in volunteering, Schmitt said she expects to see a good turnout for new and returning volunteers.

She encouraged retired people, students looking to earn volunteer credit for school or a civic obligation, stay-at-home parents who want to get involved or even those who are looking for employment to apply.

“With employment issues, volunteering is a great way for people to keep an active resume and build new skills,” said Kelly Norman, program coordinator.

People of all ages and from all walks of life are encouraged to fill out a volunteer application.

“We see that there are a lot of people out there willing to serve and I do believe this program will be extremely beneficial to all of Hall County,” Norman said.

Positions are available in several areas including youth athletics, park beautification, special events, reception duties, fitness or even teaching a class.

“I’m sure that there are a lot of people that might have a special skill. We offer all different types of classes here. We’ve had sign language, braille, we’ve had couponing classes, so it’s not just about fitness classes although that opportunity is there also,” Schmitt said.

All applicants will be given a background check and measures will be taken to ensure safety.

“We’re very excited about launching this program and look to see it become an inspiring and successful program,” Norman said.

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