New National Civic Volunteer Award Discovers Compelling Local “Heroes”

Jul 29, 2020

Many of the Nation’s 30,000 small towns are home to some amazing civic volunteers. Now, through a new national award program, their inspirational stories will be told. Here’s a sample:

  • A rural community with 240 fire and emergency calls a year and no fire station, until the dogged efforts of its volunteer fire chief brought the town a new facility and equipment.
  • A declining downtown corridor that threatened the economic vitality of a small southern community until a team of citizens took charge to revitalize Main Street and attract $5.5 million in private investment.
  • A town Trustee who led an effort to elevated the community’s health and safety capabilities just in time to better respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

These hometown “heroes” and dozens of others are among the initial nominees for the first annual Small Town America Civic Volunteer award being sponsored by CivicPlus CMS, part of the CivicPlus platform of integrated technologies for local governments. The contest was launched on June 1 and concludes on August 15, with winners to be announced later in the fall.

The initiative will recognize 100 nominees coming from towns, townships or counties with populations of 5,000 or less. The top three winning honorees will receive community cash awards of $10,000, $7,500 and $5,000 for their respective communities. A new CivicPlus community website will be awarded, at no charge, in the name of all 100 winning entries, including a unique volunteer module to aid in future recruitment efforts.

Points of Lights has joined other prominent organizations in supporting the new Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award (STACVA) program that was created to shine a spotlight on a growing national problem. For many years, there has been a serious decline in the availability of people willing to serve as civic volunteers in their local communities. This issue threatens the very fabric of small town America, and has more significance today than ever before.

We are facing perhaps the greatest global crisis since World War II, with the spread of COVID-19, and its impact is being felt throughout all aspects of our lives. The issue has placed a particular burden on smaller counties and communities that already face a challenge in retaining and recruiting local volunteers to support a wide range of vital public services.

Research conducted in 2018 by the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland, showed the percent of citizens volunteering in rural areas dropped for 12 straight years beginning in 2003, from a high of 30.9% that year to 25.3% by 2015. Evidence suggests the trend has continued. The hope is this important initiative will draw much-needed grassroots attention to the problem and, hopefully, help reverse the disturbing trend of fewer people willing to volunteer in our smaller communities.

CivicPlus, the leading platform of integrated technology for local governments, is underwriting the Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award. The program will recognize the top 100 nominees who fill critical roles such as volunteer firefighters, EMTs, advisory committees for libraries, public recreation programs, municipal boards and councils, and more. STACVA is open to all counties, cities and townships with populations of 5,000 or less. Local governments represented by the top three winners will receive cash awards, and all localities served by the top 100 honorees will receive new CivicCMS websites (including a volunteer module to aid in future volunteer recruitment efforts) at no charge.

Joining Points of Light as co-sponsors of the award are the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Towns and Townships and the National Main Street Center.

Additional details of the award program, including an online nomination form, can be found at www.civic-plus.com.

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