For a city that runs on a “government lite” philosophy, having a team of dedicated volunteers is essential. Volunteerism has always been at the heart of Estero’s progress and unique quality of life.
Volunteers run tech for meetings
A core group of about five volunteers help ensure that all Estero citizens can view Village Council and Board meetings virtually. This started long before the pandemic, and it has become even more important since in-person gatherings have been limited.
Estero’s audio-visual (AV) volunteer program began in the final quarter of 2016. Through the end of 2020, volunteers had completed more than 150 shifts totaling about 400 hours of community service.
From the outset, Village Council has prioritized meeting transparency and volunteer engagement, along with a commitment to “government-lite”. To accomplish these objectives, the Village contracted with local AV firm, Bonita Video. The result was a volunteer training program for Estero citizens who wished to be more involved, managed by contract. No previous technical experience is needed. Bonita Video trains the volunteers, and once their performance meets standards, they are assigned to run AV for meetings once or twice a month. This allows the Village to maintain a low staffing level, limit costs, and encourage civic participation.
Current volunteers include Terry Higerd, Joe Moran, Timothy Murphy, Michael Mortensen and Mark Yosway. Past volunteers who have been active include John Wood and Duane Lashua.
Volunteers have different motivations for wanting to give their time to serve their community.
“My wife was always volunteering, and I was at home playing with my photography and my computer,” said Joe Moran, 82, who has been volunteering with the AV program for three years. “This gets me out of the house. I’m pleasing my wife and helping my community, so it’s two birds with one stone.”
Another AV volunteer, Timothy Murphy, found himself with time on his hands after becoming disabled from an injury. The former banking executive says he is happy to help and likes meeting people at government meetings.
“Volunteering is something that was always in my heart. Now that I have time, I want to do something to contribute to my community,” said Murphy, who also volunteers with Koreshan State Park.
Volunteers willingly step up when needed
In addition to regular volunteers, the Village occasionally calls upon volunteers for special projects. Such was the case with a recent effort to distribute face masks and hand sanitizer stations to businesses throughout the Village of Estero.
As a result of federal aid, the Village was able to mail out 23,500 packages to all Estero residences, each including two, high-quality face masks branded with the new Village of Estero logo.
The Village wanted to equip employees and volunteers at Estero businesses and nonprofits with the same protection. So, 31,500 mask packages and 300 automatic hand sanitizer stations were purchased, as well.
The only problem was how to get these items distributed. That’s where Estero volunteers stepped in. Working with the Village and Estero Fire Rescue, a team of 14 volunteers collectively worked to visit every Estero business and nonprofit.
Some grateful small business owners said the Estero-branded face masks helped their staff look more professional, and the effort fostered community pride.
Want to get involved?
If you are interesting in volunteering on either a regular or occasional basis, please contact Village Clerk Carol Sacco at (239)221-5035 or email:
To receive the latest information about Village projects and community activities, go to the Village website and subscribe at estero-fl.gov.