Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sacramento among ten cities that win Cities of Service grant

The New York Times [here] and Sacramento Business Journal [here] tell us in reports over the extended weekend that Sacramento won a Cities of Service grant from the Rockefeller Foundation that will fund a "chief service officer" who will report directly to the mayor.

SBJ tells us, "In its application, Sacramento listed education, public safety, homelessness and the environment as its high-priority issues that it will target with increased volunteerism."

A report on the grants at the Cities of Service website tells us the grant to Sac is in the total amount of $200,000, to be paid over a period of two years. Our city's Chief Service Officer must be hired before June 1, and will be tasked with forming "a citywide planning process that culminates in the creation of a comprehensive service plan. ... By December 1, 2010, [he will] have submitted a progress report and put into operation a website or other appropriate technological tool to facilitate residents' participation in service."

While SacHo is keen on volunteers when expertise is needed, we believe that use of volunteers in place of employees, which often happens, undermines society. Much of the work done by volunteers in Homeless World could and should be done by homeless people. It is both weird and ironic when, as often happens, volunteers "serve" the homeless by denying them jobs ― or opportunities to pay back worthy providers of aid.

Does it seem strange to any of you, as it does me, that there are volunteers at homeless-help facilities, yet none playing professional basketball or playing the musclebound lead in violent movies? Why is that!?  How much expertise is needed to bounce a ball or grunt something unintelligible!?  And, hey, I'm 6'5":  I could probably play point guard for the Cavaliers for several seasons before getting dumped.

Many many homeless people, themselves, have the time and the desire to do the necessary tasks to aid the homeless community. SacHo intends to "make a play" for some sort of "Homeless for the Homeless" volunteering effort via the forthcoming chief service office. Will see how high that ball bounces before work-averse Safe Ground takes over and spoils everything.

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