This past summer brought changes to volunteering in parks. Some are simply organizational and boost efficiency. Others will have direct impact on volunteers.
One of the biggest changes allows most volunteers at most parks to earn free use of RECenters. That means volunteers from Clemyjontri Park, lakefront parks, historic sites (including archeology and collections), nature centers and resource parks, Frying Pan Farm Park, Turner Farm, and Green Spring Gardens can earn free RECenter use. RECenter volunteers already had that option.
There is a minimum hourly requirement to earn the RECenter pass, but it’s not much. Four hours a week will do it. Here are the details:
Each month, a volunteer’s total hours will be calculated and averaged over the past two months. A volunteer who averages 16 hours per month during the most recent two-month period is eligible for the RECenter pass. Another way to look at is: If you volunteer 32 hours over a two-month period, you qualify for a one-month pass. If you continue to volunteer and you keep your two-month average at 16 hours/month, you continue to receive a pass card that allows you to use any RECenter. That’s another improvement. Volunteers are no longer limited to using only one RECenter.
Bear with me for a little further explanation, then we’ll get back to the good stuff. Each site has a volunteer coordinator who oversees that site’s volunteers. We’re planning for each volunteer to log their own hours by the end of each month. The volunteer coordinators will have until the 5th of each month to approve those hours. Then we’ll figure out who is eligible for passes by the 10th of each month. If you qualify, your free month of RECenter use will run until the 10th of the following month.
This upgrade in benefits comes as we launch a new agency-wide Volunteer Management System (VMS). That’s the fancy name for a software program that we’re using to manage all aspects of volunteering. VMS will make volunteering easier – easier to sign up, easier to find long-term or one day-opportunities, and easier to find particular volunteer opportunities based on location, need, people you’d like to serve, or your interests.
There are volunteering benefits even if you give less than 16 hours per month. All volunteers, including golf volunteers, who work four or more hours in a month receive a 10% merchandise discount coupon that will be emailed to them around the 10th of each month. There are some exclusions to the 10% discount, and they are explained on the coupon. In addition, any FCPA volunteer will be able to purchase a RECenter Discount Fast Pass (DFP) at the county employee rate. A DFP allows 25 RECenter visits over two years. This pass can be used to admit friends and family members, too. One of the 25 allowed visits will be deducted for each guest. The passes can be purchased at any RECenter. Benefits for volunteers at golf courses remain the same with two additions. Golf volunteers now can purchase a DFP at the employee rate, and they are entitled to the 10% merchandise discount. The volunteer coordinator at each golf course will have details. If you would like to become a Park Authority volunteer, there are several places to get more information. Drop by or call any staffed park site and ask to speak with the volunteer coordinator. Or, get more information from these online sites:
- The Park Authority’s volunteer web page
- Current volunteer opportunities
- Adopt-A-Field/Adopt-A-Park Programs
- Volunteering at RECenters, Golf Courses or Community Parks
- Volunteering at nature centers, Frying Pan or Green Spring
- Volunteer training
Volunteering at Historic Sites
Volunteers with an interest in history may enjoy being part of the new Historic Site Volunteer Corps. These volunteers help care for the historic buildings and structures and the historic artifacts that fall under the Park Authority’s stewardship. Parks need volunteers with expertise in carpentry, construction, landscaping, history and other skills to help with replacement of door and window trims, stair railings and siding as well as painting, invasive plant removal, landscaping, fencing, cleaning, caulking, documenting of building conditions, follow-up inspections, and outreach at public events.
There is an introductory video about the Historic Site Volunteer Corps on the Park Authority’s website.
For more information about the Historic Site Volunteer Corps and protecting Fairfax County’s cultural resources, contact Todd Brown at 703-324-8676 or via email.