Mayors proclaim volunteer month

Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Motorists passing the "Welcome to Cape Girardeau" signs will notice something new this week -- giant orange and blue ribbons.

"The ribbons are a tribute to volunteers," said Al Sprad-ling, Cape Girardeau's outgoing mayor. "Without volunteers, the city couldn't function."

Spradling and Jackson and Scott City mayors, Paul Sander and Tim Porch, praised all volunteers Tuesday as they participated in an Area Wide United Way conference to proclaim April as Community Volunteer Month.

The week of April 21-27 is National Volunteer Week, but the area is getting a head start on the celebration.

"Volunteers are so important to churches, hospitals, schools, civic groups and to the city, which depends on volunteers for a number of existing boards and commissions," Spradling said.

"You depend on volunteers as Scout leaders, coaches for sports programs, city boards and much more," Sander said. "This area lives in a 'Little Utopia,' unlike communities near us. And good things are happening, a lot because people give back to the community."

"In a small community like Scott City, we rely heavily on volunteers," Porch said. "That includes board of adjustment, planning and zoning, and our fire department."

Volunteers have been honored for more than a quarter-century during National Volunteer Week, which was started in 1974, when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing the week as an annual celebration of volunteerism. Every president since, as well as many governors and mayors, has supported the week through proclamations.

"The United Way this year decided to announce the entire month of April as Community Volunteer Month," said Nancy Jernigan, executive director of the Area Wide United Way. "The mayors of Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City each issued proclamations in their respective areas."

During 2001, the International Year of Volunteers selected orange and blue as the colors that signify volunteerism. Orange and blue ribbons will be distributed to volunteers throughout the month, and are available at the United Way Office, 1858 Broadway.

"Celebrate the American Spirit -- VOLUNTEER!" is the theme for the 29th annual National Volunteer Week. More than 109 million people volunteered in 2001, resulting in more than 15.8 billion hours.

Two volunteers were speakers at Tuesday's meeting -- youth volunteer Majhan Phillips, a student at Southeast Missouri State University, and Ilena Aslin, who has been a volunteer in this area more than seven years since her retirement as a Girl Scout executive, averaging more than 1,000 hours a year.

rowen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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