City committee to recommend volunteer policy

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SANDRA M STANWAY
Brooks Bulletin

City of Brooks council committee was expected to have a recommendation at Monday’s council meeting for approval of a volunteer policy to allow staff to volunteer and be paid.
Unlike other local business oriented volunteer programs which allow staff multiple days, the city will allow a maximum of eight hours over one year. Rollover to the next year will not be permitted.
“The policy is based on the belief that giving back to the community is a key driver in employee engagement and by doing so staff will find a greater purpose in their work and a higher sense of community pride and passion,” said Jeff Gerestein, human resources director.
Councillor Dan Klein suggested recognition within their environment and on the city website.
“I think it would do wonders all of the way around to be recognized both internally and externally,” he said.
CAO Alan Martens wondered if people really want to be recognized.
He suggested the recognition could come at the end of the year within a city function or if it could be decided by the employee.
Martens’ concern is that one person would receive recognition for volunteering during a workday but others who help on their own time would not be acknowledged.
Mayor Barry Morishita agreed with both Martens and Klein’s ideas. He sees the policy as a way to show the positive side of local government to those who are skeptical.
“I think there’s a corporate goal in there,” he said.
“This is a community initiative as well as an employee initiative,” he said.
Martens would determine the suitability of each request to ensure they do not promote programs or issues that are considered to be in direct conflict with the city’s vision, they do not go against the Human Rights Act and they are not for any political party or religious organization.
“We have a pretty good value statement and policy when it comes to welcoming and inclusive. If something falls outside of those bounds I would expect that we would not permit it,” said Morishita.
The volunteer policy idea came from a staff member.