On Christmas morning, children across our city woke up to Santa’s presents, parents woke up to coffee, and grandparents woke up to ply their grandchildren with sugar and loud toys and send the kids off back home with their half-caffeinated parents.
During that same time, we had our Newport Beach Police Department patrolling our streets, our Newport Beach Fire Department ready to respond at a moment’s notice, and our Utilities Department personnel operating the flood gates and pumps on Balboa Island in response to the precipitation deluge. Thank you to our folks working to keep us all safe while visions of sugarplums danced in our heads.
Service in our city takes all forms. This year, we will be celebrating a certain kind of service. The kind that goes uncompensated, unglorified, and is generally unheralded. And is also the kind that binds a community together, restores faith in humanity, and fulfills our deepest longings to use our talents for betterment of others.
This will be “The Year of the Volunteer” in Newport Beach.
I have challenged each of my Council colleagues to celebrate five groups or individuals at City Council meetings throughout the coming year. We will host at least 35 mini-celebrations of some of the best that our city has to offer.
Frankly, one of the easiest things to do in this city is find volunteers. Especially once our eyes are open to the search.
Volunteers at our OASIS Senior Center donate more than 10,000 hours every year. These hours go toward class instruction, lectures, coordinating the travel department, and simply calling other seniors to let them know that someone cares.
Volunteers at our libraries include the Library Foundation who bring in famous speakers through the Witte Lecture Series, our Friends of the Library who sell used books to donate the proceeds back so that our library system stays world-class, our Young Adult Advisory Council that provides high school students hands-on training, and the Newport/Mesa ProLiteracy group who make sure adults — often immigrants — can operate and assimilate into our society.
Volunteers at our Police Department provide additional patrol services, perform vacation checks, and engage with our residents to round out our community policing.
No list would near completion without recognizing our Community Emergency Response Team. Coordinated by the indefatigable Matt Brisbois of our Fire Department, this group of over 400 people train year-round to serve their neighbors in the event of a major disaster. While we certainly hope to never need these services, we are a better community for their readiness.
Did this message miss wide swaths of volunteers in our community? The coaches, the PTA members, the formal organizations like Red Cross and United Way, or the informal groups of friends who surround neighbors who have lost loved ones? Of course it did, which is where you come in.
Help us out this year. If you know someone who you think ought to be recognized for their contribution to our city, tell me about it.
Mayor, Council Member
Will O’Neill joined Newport Beach City Council in 2016. Reach him at [email protected].