Big events require lots of volunteers

In Genoa they erected a statue of Lillian Virgin Finnegan in honor of volunteers who've made the Candy Dance possible.

In Genoa they erected a statue of Lillian Virgin Finnegan in honor of volunteers who've made the Candy Dance possible.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

 

Over the next two weeks volunteers will be in the spotlight as two of the county’s biggest events occur over subsequent weekends.

Candy Dance is Sept. 24-25 and the Minden-Tahoe Aviation Roundup is Oct. 1-2.

More than 200 volunteers are required to operate Candy Dance, which sees 30,000 visitors pour into Nevada’s oldest town.

Very nearly the same number of people come to Minden Tahoe Airport, and volunteers are also a critical resource for that.

On Monday, Douglas County Volunteer Coordinator Jen Calabrese introduced herself to the Douglas County Senior and Transportation Advisory Board.

A mother of three, Calabrese was raised in the county and has worked on the recreation side of the community center for five years.

Calabrese will help volunteers navigate the county’s volunteer program.

Community Services Director Scott Morgan described the background that led to the policy and its revision to be more user friendly.

“There were so many layers to the volunteer policy that it was really hard for the county to get their arms around it,” Morgan said. “The county worked really really hard with us to try and capture the flavor of what we do by way of volunteers.”

Morgan said the last thing the county wants to do is discourage volunteers, but under state law volunteers are considered unpaid employees, which means they fall under workman’s comp and other issues.

“I don’t want to turn those people away,” he said. “It’s like turning away a donation in a time of need. People get really put off by that.”

Under a policy approved by county commissioners last spring, requirements are tiered depending on what the volunteer’s doing.

“We can’t do a cookie cutter approach because we have these layers of volunteers,” Morgan said.

Calabrese’s position was established to help recruit, retain and recognize volunteers.

While the county policy requiring credit and background checks was approved in 2011, it wasn’t until the Tiregate scandal and two grand juries pointed out the county wasn’t consistent.

“Everyone asks us, ‘what prompted this?’” Morgan said. “In general, it goes back to Tiregate and the two grand juries afterwards that have said that the county needs to strengthen its policies. There was a complete review of policies for exposure and liabilities and the one that popped up was the volunteer policy.”

Organizations that aren’t directly under the county like Young at Heart and the Community Services Foundation, have agreements with the county to handle their own vetting of volunteers.

Last week, Genoans approved an agreement with the county that will allow them to have a volunteer coordinator and leaders who undergo the county process and supervise the volunteers.

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