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Volunteers Should Be "Friends"

by Ron Lehman

I think that most people will agree that volunteers and supportive citizens are a vital component of every local recreation and park agency. Their role in the local community provides many benefits that range from assisting as a willing hand with some activity or program to serving as an influential spokesman on behalf of support of the agency.

Every agency and professional leader searches for a way of expressing appreciation to these wonderful people. Jackets, mugs, plaques, dinners, lunches and certificates are a small sample of ways to show that appreciation.

There is another option that I would encourage all agencies to consider: give Friends of Parks & Recreation to your volunteers, citizen board members, local officials, key community leaders, and other supportive citizens.

Friends of Parks & Recreation is a beautiful four-color quarterly newsmagazine published by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The 1995 quarterly editions will focus on Fitness and Wellness (Spring), Arts and Festivals (Winter), Intergenerational (Summer), and the Environment (Fall). Every "Friend" can keep abreast of current issues that affect our future and learn about resources and programs related to recreation, parks, conservation, and the environment. By sharing the success of the programs and individuals, it is hoped that others will be encouraged to replicate these efforts in their own community.

It is also cost efficient. An agency can purchase memberships in bulk from NRPA at the following rates: 1-25 for $15; 25-50 for $12.50; 50+ for $10. Generally, an agency gift is given for one year, and then the agency gives a subscription to someone else the following year. However, many recipients will renew the subscription at their cost. Consequently, there is an ever increasing number of citizens in each community that serve as a growing network for recreation and parks. With the many economic and social challenges that face parks and recreation agencies across America today, we need our "Friends."

Supporters of parks, recreation, and conservation need to speak in a unified voice. Friends of Parks & Recreation was created to provide a strong network for this purpose. We encourage each agency to consider honoring some key volunteers by enlisting them as "Friends." For more information, contact Suzanne Mathis, Friends Coordinator. NRPA, 2775 S. Quincy Street, Arlington. VA 22206, 703-578-5542.

Ron Lehman is Vice President of the Channahon Park District and an NRPA Trustee.

30 Illinois Parks & Recreation July/August 1995

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