Parks and Rec seeks good neighbors to volunteer

Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2022

By Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton Star
Elizabethton is proud to be known as the historical site of the first independent American government west of both the Eastern Continental Divide and the original Thirteen Colonies.
However, being independent is not always a preferred state. That’s why some Elizabethton officials hope to encourage citizens to show their eager faces around town to help keep the city freshly groomed and welcoming for citizens and visitors alike.
To do this, officials need volunteers. And they need them for all kinds of projects in all kinds of weather and at all times of the year.
“We would greatly appreciate the help of individuals who would love to serve our wonderful community,” said Mike Mains, the director of the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department. “We live in a beautiful area of the country and what we do matters. Creating memories through opportunities is a top priority. We want those who partner with us to not only provide a valuable service for others, but we want them to feel the wonderful reward of making a difference in the lives of their neighbors and friends.”
He added that those who seek to give back to their community serve an important mission — making a difference in the lives of Elizabethton’s citizens.
“We must continue to improve the quality of life for all, and in doing so, we will continue to grow this department, which creates additional opportunities to serve,” he said.
Mains said that in the past, his department has been blessed to have received help from local churches, civic groups and organizations such as Keep Carter County Beautiful. “We’ve also had volunteers from local high school and college students,” he added. “For example, last year, we were needing dozens of volunteers for the Covered Bridge Days Kids Island in order to allow kids to enjoy numerous games and inflatables at no cost. Milligan College’s baseball team stepped up and helped with this event. That is just one example of the need we have at times.”
Mains said citizens can help in many different ways, especially since the department is growing so fast. “We have done everything possible to continue to add programs and events that will provide families with free opportunities to enjoy outdoor concerts, holiday events, parties in the parks and free outdoor movie nights,” he said.
“We are here to make a difference, but we do need help. We’ve been blessed to have had great support from our city council and local businesses who sponsor many of our programs and events, but as we continue to grow, we do need volunteers to help.
“Several weeks ago, we had hundreds show up at a Party in the Park we had at Kiwanis Park. We served free hot dogs, drinks and chips to families. We had inflatables and showed an outdoor movie. It was an incredible event, and one in which we could have used some additional volunteer help.”
Mains said he believes everyone has a purpose in life and that God provides opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. “Our department has that platform to help do just that and would like to share that with others,” he said. “Partnering with our Parks and Recreation Department by volunteering will provide an opportunity to serve those in our community who may need an activity or event that would bring happiness to their lives.
“Our staff comes to work every day knowing the importance of what we do. We are fortunate to be able to serve every day. We just want to share that opportunity with others and have them experience the rewards we are so blessed to feel, and it will allow our staff to do more and more.”
The department asks for volunteers who would like to help with minor projects, such as landscaping, park cleaning and event service. Volunteers can also join the “Friends of the Park Program, where, throughout the year, the department puts on multiple events and needs help with set up/tear down, inflatables monitoring and dressing up in costumes, for example.
“We are looking for individuals who have a strong connection to their community and benefiting from the rewards of giving back to those who live here,” said Program and Special Events Coordinator Kelly Kitchens in a July press release. “Parks and Recreation strives to provide free entertainment as much as we are able, but without hands to help work, those opportunities just simply aren’t possible. In order to ensure Parks and Recreation’s services can not only continue, but grow, volunteer help is vital.
“Seeing a child’s face light up as they see their favorite character during a meet and greet, not having a parent worry about paying for their child to play on inflatables, enjoy time during a foam party or watch a magician spark wonder and excitement in their minds are just some of the many rewards of serving during our special events.”
The department also conducts beautification projects to plant flowers and trees, trim bushes or pick up trash. In the past, high school students looking for volunteer hours for scholarships have helped, as well as.
If you would like to volunteer, call (423) 547-6441 or (423) 547-3008, or email dvines@cityofelizabethton.org or kkitchens@cityofelizabethton.org.
For more information on upcoming events, visit www.elizabethton.org or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

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