COLUMNS

Hilliard Headlines: Volunteering creates community connections

MICHELLE CRANDALL
Michelle Crandall

Much of the work of city government is performed by the dedicated staff members who strive every day to make Hilliard a safe and enjoyable place to live, learn, work and play.

Other important contributions come from passionate and dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and expertise to the city because they love Hilliard and want to give back to their community.

Our most visible volunteers are probably the women and men who serve on Hilliard City Council's various boards and commissions, whose members advise council and city officials on a variety of topics.

Their roles range from Hilliard's planning and zoning commission and board of zoning appeals, which help ensure developments meet zoning standards and code, to the Environmental Sustainability Commission, the Shade Tree Commission and the Hilliard Public Arts Commission, whose varied missions are ultimately to make Hilliard a more beautiful place to live.

By freely giving their time and their expertise in support of the various roles of these public bodies, the members of the city's boards and commissions are committed to upholding Hilliard values, programs and resources to deliver the community experience our residents deserve.

Hundreds of individuals also volunteer for the city in the more traditional sense.

The single largest volunteer group working on behalf of residents comes from the longstanding Hilliard Citizens Police Academy. Many of the residents who have completed this interactive 14-week course -- which introduces civilians to the "real world" of first responders -- continue to support the Hilliard Division of Police through volunteer work as a member of the academy's alumni association.

Since 2011, the organization has donated more than 12,000 community-service hours. Volunteers spend their time on a variety of tasks, including assisting officers at the Fourth of July and Old Hilliardfest events, working as "safety officers" at a large-scale active-shooter exercise, running the EZ Child ID fingerprint machine, organizing the Hilliard Division of Police/Norwich Township Fire Department vs. Hilliard Special Olympics softball game, making popcorn at National Night Out, photographing at Safety Town, handing out programs at the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremony and wrapping gifts at the police division's Shop With A Cop, among many other activities.

We also have volunteers who make a difference in the community by contributing their time and effort to the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department. You'll find their smiling faces in such roles as supporting our special events, working at the senior center, keeping our parks clean and tackling Eagle Scout projects.

The city is proud of all its volunteers and appreciate everything they do on behalf of their community. What many don't realize, though, is that while volunteering does great things for others, it also benefits the volunteers themselves.

Volunteering connects you to others, promotes both mental and physical wellness, is fun and enjoyable and can even be helpful in your career.

If you're interested in giving back to the community, fill out the volunteer application and liability waiver at hilliardohio.gov/volunteer.

You also will find other volunteer opportunities in the community, including with Hilliard City Schools, the Hilliard Food Pantry, Patches of Light, local service organizations, youth sports and religious agencies. More details are available at hilliardohio.gov/residentresources.

Michelle Crandall is Hilliard's city manager.