County volunteers honored for hard work, dedication

Kitsap County Volunteer Services Coordinator Jan Koske sets up a display prior to Monday night’s reception.   - Photo by Charlie Bermant
Kitsap County Volunteer Services Coordinator Jan Koske sets up a display prior to Monday night’s reception.
— image credit: Photo by Charlie Bermant

Kitsap County honored its volunteer workers at a reception Monday night, thanking those who donate their time and expertise to the county.

“We’re fortunate to have so many great volunteers,” said North Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen. “There are a variety of ways people can donate their time, and there are a lot of things that would not happen if we did not have volunteers.”

Volunteer Service Coordinator Jan Koske said volunteer labor ranges from serving on boards to helping out at the Kitsap County Fair.

There are 31 boards that are staffed by volunteers, from the Arts Board to the Washington State Ferries Advisory Committee. Some receive expense reimbursement, and none of them have any power to pass legislation or make rules, although they often make recommendations for consideration by the county commissioners.

Koske said the county uses 3,694 volunteers each year, who put in 188,975 hours. Taken together, volunteers save the county $3.5 million in labor costs.

“They deliver value,” Koske said. “And they work in partnership with regular county staff.” 

Koske said there are many reasons people choose to volunteer. Some are students and are unsure about what they want to do with their lives. By working as an intern in the court system, they may decide whether they want to pursue a law enforcement career.

Others are retirees who want to get out of the house and do something constructive.

“As the population ages, I would expect that many more senior citizens will volunteer,” Koske said. “And there will also be many opportunities for people to volunteer in support of senior citizens.”

The reception was held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week, which was designated as the third week of April, a presidential declaration in 1974.

Since then, every United States president has signed a proclamation promoting National Volunteer Week, and governors, mayors and other elected officials from all over the country make public statements and sign proclamations in support of the occasion.

Koske said that any prospective volunteer who works with the public or with children is subject to a background check, but in many cases this is not deemed necessary.

Many volunteers choose to work in areas opposite to what may be part of their existing skill set.

“If someone has done one thing all their lives maybe they want to try something new,” Koske soid.

To explore volunteer opportunities with Kitsap County, call (360) 337-4650.

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