Maumelle again named Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year

By Tammy Keith Published November 18, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
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— MAUMELLE — Maumelle is sort of like the Taylor Swift of cities. It just won another award.

Mayor Mike Watson said Maumelle has been named a 2012 Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year — again.

Since it started participating in 2002, the city has won the award nine times, every year except 2010.

It’s not old hat, though.

“We think it’s great to get because it shows the effort our volunteers give the city, that they’re willing to make the commitments,” Watson said.

Volunteers in 33 organizations gave a whopping 383,740 hours in 2012, he said.

The city’s organizations, including sports programs, Scouts, the Senior Wellness Center, Maumelle Friends of the Animals and more keep up with their volunteer hours to submit.

Araly Bowen, office administrator for the Maumelle Parks and Recreation Department, submits the paperwork each year to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

“There are reoccurring activities that allow community members to volunteer, but each year, there’s a new group that allows for more growth,” she said. Bowen said that in a narrative she submits, she highlights established organizations and new ones, “what they overcome, the challenges that they have and how they help families.”

Nicole Heaps, director of senior services at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center, said, “We’re just one piece of the pie. We’ve got volunteers for Meals on Wheels, volunteer drivers, volunteers who give instruction in our classes, cooks in our kitchen — goodness, we’ve just got lots of volunteers.”

The center logged 8,167 volunteer hours in 2012.

“A volunteer actually keeps track of the volunteer hours, imagine that?” Heaps said.

In 2012, youth sports volunteers contributed the most hours, 86,815, followed by the Maumelle Lions Club with 66,480 hours.

The total volunteer hours impact the community to the tune of $8.4 million, Bowen reported.

A national criterion is used to calculate the financial impact, she said.

Bowen said the report isn’t a complete picture of the volunteer spirit in Maumelle.

“I’m sure there are still more hours out there that are not accounted for — small acts of service as a community I think everybody tends to do without notice,” she said.

“I’ve seen people who have taken meals to families over periods of months who don’t even submit those hours; these are just organizations. I know just churches and different other small groups, even just neighborhoods, do things. We have such a high number, yet we’re so low, according to what truly is out there.”

The all-volunteer Maumelle Friends of the Animals logged 24,960 hours.

Scott Tudor, one of the members, said the group is made up of “people from all walks of life interested in doing the best we can for the animals in the shelter.

“We get to do things that go above and beyond. We have really cut down on the rate of euthanasia. We have special events, fundraisers, our Puppy Pool Party every year, so the opportunities for hours are certainly there. We’re always in need of people because, unfortunately, the animal population is just so high.”

Watson said the award is important not only to the city, but to the volunteers.

“It gives them credit for doing all the work they do. I want to try to win it every year,” he said.

Since taking office in 2007, Watson said, his schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for volunteering.

However, he is a former volunteer firefighter, was on the Maumelle Planning Commission for 10 years and now volunteers with the Tree Board.

In her nomination form, Bowen wrote, “To serve or be served is a life-changing moment. As residents continue to choose to serve this city and its people, the influence to serve has become a way of life in Maumelle.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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