(EDITOR’S NOTE: Williams, like other small towns, stands out for the many volunteers who contribute countless hours each year. This article focuses on just two areas of local volunteerism.)
Volunteering is often a thankless job.
To turn things around, this week volunteers across the country will be acknowledged for their tireless work and dedication as part of National Volunteer Week, April 22-28.
“I have a minimum of 50 volunteers and that’s just for K through eighth grade,” said Janet Cothren, volunteer coordinator for Williams Elementary/Middle School. “We probably volunteer up to 20-30 hours per week in the school system.
“Mostly our volunteers work with the teachers,” she said. “In the past, we’ve had some people in the office or lunch room.”
Cothren said she knows a few people who have volunteered in the past, and doesn’t hesitate to call on them. She added some of the employees bring in their family members to volunteer.
“We probably never have enough,” she said. “When you have 35 teachers and 50 volunteers, we have some teachers who do not have a volunteer at all.”
The need for volunteers at the school is very important, especially for early education.
“Primary teachers often like to use one-on-one reading programs with the kids,” Cothren said.
Cothren said she often sees volunteers and children reading in the halls of the school.
“Extra help never hurts,” she said.
Even with the high number of volunteers there are a few that stand out, Cothren said.
“Kali (Kaliche) was volunteering when I came eight years ago, so she has eight-plus years here,” she said.
Another name that stands out is teaching assistant Flora Hall.
“In the beginning, for at least two years, she was an unpaid volunteer,” Cothren said. “She put in more hours as a volunteer that any volunteer I know.”
Hall started working for Scott Grimes, band teacher for Williams schools, after he asked for volunteers at the Bill Williams Senior Center.
“That’s how I happened to come over here,” she said. “Now I get paid for four hours and usually work six.
“I can’t stay away — It’s too much fun.”
Besides volunteering for the school district, Hall is also the United Methodist Church Hand-Bell choir director, Sunday school teacher and musician during services.
“That’s all volunteer too,” Hall said.
Hall said her philosophy on volunteering is pretty simple.
“There is plenty of time in the day — you can get a lot of things done,” she said. “I’m 74 years old and still going.”
Her only desire is that more people her age would volunteer.
“I wish there were more volunteers at the senior center,” she said.
Another group of unpaid public service employees that are visible in town are the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS).
Dwight Talley, a VIPS going on eight years, said he started with the police department June 12, 1993.
“I though it would be nice to give something back to the city,” he said.
At first, Talley’s duties included a lot of cleaning and sweeping, then he began going out on patrols.
“Now, they call when they need assistance,” he said. “Anything an officer needs help with, whether it’s a crime scene or a homicide — I’m there to help.”
Currently, Talley and the other VIPS, perform tasks such as house checks, traffic control when needed for parades and accidents, campground watches and other similar duties.
“We are the extra eyes and ears for the police department,” he said. “I try to keep active — I’ve put almost 40,000 miles on my quad patrolling Forest Service roads in the area.”
Other duties include handing out subpoenas and summons, along with issuing warnings to people who are parked illegally.
“There is a whole variety of things we can do,” Talley said.
Talley is also a Coconino County Search and Rescue volunteer.
“A lot of the time, it’s hum-drum but every week there is something interesting,” he said. “Those are the kind of things that make it interesting.
VIPS are required to work a minimum of four hours per week. In order to be considered, applicants must be 21 or older, have a current Arizona driver’s license, pass a background inspection and possibly a medical examination and have common sense traits. The WPD has a total of four VIPS.
To become a volunteer for the school is very easy, Cothren said.
“All applications are scrutinized by the administration,” she said. “Other than that, we’ll take whoever.
“We can always use more.”
To become a VIPS all people need to do is call Frank Manson, chief, at 635-4461 or stop by the WPD, located at 501 W. Route 66.