Think about it, we have a thriving cultural arts community, a parks and facility maintenance division that has 23 parks in our city, a program division that oversees the needs of our seniors, our special needs participants, and we boast a high-level gymnastics program. And last, but not least, we have an athletic division that oversees every sport known to mankind for children all the way through to adults.
The answer is simple, we have amazing supervisors, who in turn have dedicated employees, who in turn have solid part-time employees, and the most important part of this chain is we have phenomenal volunteers who give their heart and soul to our department.
As a child growing up in this recreation department, I never understood the depth of volunteerism that has to take place in order for this department to produce at the level it produces on a daily basis. As an employee for the department for the last 14 years, I realized quickly that there is no way you can do your job without the help of volunteers in our community.
Last year at our volunteer reception I spoke on behalf of the athletic division and told everyone in attendance that if we had to pay volunteers in the athletic division it would cost more than $4 million. Multiply that by five divisions and you are looking at approximately $20 million that it would cost our department paying volunteers at minimum wage for us to be successful. When you think of it in those terms — trust me, you are all worth every penny of that and much, much more.
Why volunteer? My simple answer to that is why not? Ralph Waldo Emerson said this, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
Think about that. When you volunteer for our department or anywhere in the community is it not so much more rewarding for you? Don’t you get so much more out of it when you volunteer? Is it not the most heartfelt feeling when you coach youth football and a little kid who is playing tackle football, and the little boy looks like the Michelin Man with all the pads on, comes up to you and thanks you after practice for coaching them? The true innocence of that little child can almost bring you to tears.
Or, when you are volunteering to help with Special Olympics and you see the joy and the excitement out of a child with special needs finish a race. Not win the race, but to finish the race. It’s at that moment that you look deep inside yourself, and realize why you were put on this earth.
This past October, at our volunteer reception, we honored our volunteers for all that they have done for this department. I can assure you that volunteerism is alive and well in Carrollton. Thank you for helping make an impact!
Maierhofer is the director of the Carrollton Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.