By Betsy Nelson
Special to The
You probably know the positive impact a benevolent person can have on an
individual in need, or what a group of volunteers can accomplish together when
working toward a common goal. Now imagine what the impact could be if the mayor
appointed someone to focus on scaling volunteerism to meet urgent needs in our
In Baltimore City, this will soon be reality as Mayor Stephanie
Rawlings-Blake will appoint a chief service officer - a senior official who will
develop and implement a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target
volunteers to address the city's greatest needs.
The announcement was made at the National Conference on Volunteering and
Service, which took place in New York City. Baltimore is one of 10 cities
selected to receive a $200,000 Cities of Service Leadership Grant to fund the
position for two years.
The other cities are Atlanta; Houston; Pittsburgh; Austin, Texas; Baton
Rouge, La., Chula Vista, Calif., Little Rock, Ark., Orlando, Fla., and Richmond,
Va. The grants are made jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg
Cities of Service
The chief service officer will be tasked with convening strategic committees
of service experts, conducting assessments of existing service levels and
identifying partnerships to strengthen the effects of local volunteerism.
Baltimore is already one of 17 Cities of Service, a coalition aimed at:
- Developing a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused
on matching volunteers and established community partners to the areas of
greatest local need;
- Working with mayors and elected officials to advance strategies and best
practices that accelerate the service movement and produce measurable results;
- Ensuring that the voice of cities is heard in federal legislative, policy
and program discussions related to service.
Count us in
In a press release, Mayor Rawlings-Blake stated, "To move the city forward,
we need everyone to be involved. Our new chief service officer will ensure that
people in every community participate in making Baltimore better, safer and
stronger." Well, count us in.
The philanthropic community is excited to welcome and work with this leader
and expand upon the organized volunteer efforts already under way from city
agencies, universities, nonprofit and faith-based organizations and volunteer
matchmakers like Business Volunteers Unlimited's Volunteer Central
The Cities of Service coalition is a prime example of efforts to leverage
partnerships among philanthropy, government, and the community. Only by working
together can we move the needle on our most pressing problems in our
communities, in Maryland, and in our country.
Betsy Nelson, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.