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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 7, 2008

Volunteer programs expand

Bellevue already benefits from the help of more than 6,000 volunteers, but city officials want to expand the opportunities for residents to contribute. TheEarth Day-Arbor Day is a big volunteer draw. city is soliciting ideas from residents and plans to link people offering their services to nonprofit agencies in need of volunteers.

According to data released today, in National Volunteer Month, more than 6,700 people volunteered for Bellevue in 2007. They served more than 133,000 hours, performing a broad range of tasks, from planting trees to teaching classes to serving lunch at the North Bellevue Community Center.

Current volunteer opportunities with the city require varying time commitments, skills and work focus. Students in Bellevue schools can earn community service hours needed for graduation.

On Earth Day-Arbor Day alone -- Saturday, April 19, this year -- hundreds of volunteers are expected to help plant shrubs and remove noxious weeds at Bellevue parks. People who want to participate should contact Bob Schafer by e-mail or by phone at 425-452-7225.

New Emphasis on Volunteering
The city is launching a new push to encourage volunteering, and hired its first citywide volunteer program coordinator in January. (Marji Trachtman coordinates the Police Department's volunteer program and Lourdes Salazar coordinates volunteer programs for the Probation division.)

The volunteering web pages will be revamped to make it easier for people to discover and connect with volunteering opportunities. People can send e-mails detailing their skills and the activities they are interested in.

In addition to taking suggestions for new volunteer positions, Shelly Shellabarger, the volunteer coordinator, is working with area nonprofits to help them fill volunteer positions. 

Wide Range of Volunteer Opportunities Now
The Parks & Community Services Department has long offered a multitude of volunteer opportunities, including teaching classes, coaching sports teams, assisting at community centers and even serving as canoe guides at Mercer Slough Nature Park. Many of the performers and stage crews at the Bellevue Youth Theatre are volunteers -- children and senior citizens.

Working for the Utilities Department, people can help the environment, tending the city’s Waterwise Garden at the Bellevue Botanical Garden or counting salmon returning to Bellevue streams in the fall.

Volunteers ensure resident input in city planning through participation on Bellevue boards and commissions. There will be open seats on the Parks & Community Services Board after terms expire on May 31. Residents can apply online. Applications are due by 5 p.m., Friday, April 25.

Other opportunities exist in neighborhood mediation, probation, police assistance, Youth Link (adults and teens are needed), Crossroads Mini City Hall, Eastside Amateur Radio Support (EARS), emergency preparedness and code compliance.

Teens can serve on a Youth Link action team, check out life as a farmhand on a working farm at Kelsey Creek or assist with skate park management.

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