[Image via ourpublicservice]
This week’s electionlineWeekly newsletter from Mindy Moretti features three local election offices’ community service projects for Public Service Recognition Week. Take a look:
This week is Public Service Recognition Week.
Since 1985, PSRW is celebrated the first week of May to honor the men and women who serve as federal, state, county and local government employees.
From blood drives to canned food drives to coat collections, state and county elections offices go above and beyond the public service they perform as defined by their job description.
In honor of PSRW, electionline Weekly thought we’d take a look at three elections offices that are giving back to their communities through more than just voting.
We also know there are so many more state, county and local elections offices that serve their communities and we’d love to hear from you so we can highlight in future editions of electionline Weekly.
Brevard County, Florida
In the nine years that she has been in office, Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott has spearheaded several charitable initiatives to assist the community including the office’s annual participation in the WESH Share Your Christmas Food Drive.
To-date the office has collected more than 3,100 pounds of non-perishable food which is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank that provides food and basic needs to more than 500 organizations across Central Florida.
Kimberly Dale, communications director said the feedback from residents of Brevard has been very positive. hey have expressed their gratitude for the efforts of the office to help those less fortunate, have a holiday season filled with joy.
But the good works of the supervisor of elections office don’t end with the holidays. The office participates in multiple charitable events.
“It is so important to be involved in your community and I am passionate about mine!” Supervisor Scott said. “Knowing the needs of my county helps me to determine the best ways to focus our efforts and reach the most people.”
Scott noted that one of the fun community initiatives the office does each year is creating a cookbook and holding a bake sale/raffle to raise money for Project HUNGER. Over the past nine years participating in Vote to End Childhood Hunger the office has raised $26,000.
Additionally, each of the supervisors four administrative offices serves as a drop-off site for cell phones, which they donate to “Cell Phones For Soldiers”. The donated items benefit active-duty troops and veterans. In the fall, staff collects school supplies and backpacks and donates them to Brevard Public Schools.”
“We also participate in many charitable fundraisers including March for Babies and walks for the American Heart Association, Scott said. “I am blessed with a staff that is as passionate about our community as I am!”
Harford County, Maryland
Earlier this year, staff from the Harford County Board of Elections visited some of the senior centers in the county, but this time it wasn’t to help the residents with absentee voting, this time it was do a something a little different.
“Harford County extended a ‘Day of Service’ to us. We thought it would be a great idea to broaden our relationship with our local assisted living and senior centers,” explained Sarah Mohan, program manager, social media and outreach. “We got in touch with United Way who brought us all of the donated supplies to create hygiene care kits for the residents. Our entire office participated in packing the supplies and delivering the kits. The best part was creating little notes of encouragement for the recipients with quotes and drawings.”
Costs associated with the giveaway were covered by the county. Mohan said the residents were extremely grateful and excited by the visit and donation. She noted that they knew ahead of time the election office staff would be stopping by and the residents were waiting for the elections staff to arrive.
“We will absolutely be doing this in the future,” Mohan said. “We recently started doing a team building activity each month and this was a great way to kick it off.”
Mohan said that county elections offices considering to do additional service work should look close to home and look where there is the greatest need. It doesn’t have to be costly and it doesn’t have to be grand.
“It is amazing how much even something we take for granted, like a hygiene kit, can brighten someone’s day,” Mohan said. “We gained a friendship from an existing election-ship which strengthens our bond with the people we serve every day that much more.”
Weber County, Utah
Running an election is a marathon not a sprint so it seemed to make sense that the Weber County Elections team would choose to volunteer their time running a water aid station in the Ogden Marathon.
The Ogden Marathon, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, is one of the largest events held in the county typically 7,000 participants run the full or half marathon. Running an aid station entails filling up water jugs the day before, setting up the water station area and keeping it free of trash and safe for the runners and then passing out water and Gatorade to them as they run past.
“We set up funny/motivational political-themed signs to entertain/encourage the runners during this uphill leg of the course. We bring our families, including younger kids, and they have a blast. The runners really appreciate it,” said Clerk Ricky Hatch.
One such family volunteer dressed as Uncle Sam and handed out licorice to all the passing runners.
Hosting the water station is part of the election office’s Winning in Weber program that is designed to engage students, veterans, teens, seniors, individuals with disabilities and children in the electoral process. Winning in Weber won a 2018 Clearie Award from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
“This year [May 18] will be the third year that we volunteer,” explained Ryan Cowley, elections director. “This has been a fun and rewarding way for us to give back a little bit to the community.”
Thanks to Mindy for sharing these stories; election offices already do so much for their communities year-round, but it’s gratifying to see them reaching out to serve outside the voting process. Kudos to Brevard, Harford and Weber Counties – and thank you to the countless other offices whose good works aren’t chronicled here. Have a wonderful weekend – and stay tuned …