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Cities of Service

23 May 2014

Mosaiko.gr met with Marcia Hope Goodwin, Chief Service Officer/Director of Community Affairs & Human Relations, Office of the Mayor, City of Orlando during her visit to Thessaloniki on the occasion of the "Future City" International Conference

What is Cities of Service:

It is a national initiative in the United States and also some parts of Europe. It is an initiative that started in NYC with Mayor Bloomberg, former mayor now, in 2009. It started as a pilot in his city, and he created NYC Serves; it is an initiative where Impact Volunteering first started and it is what the Cities of Services initiative is based on. Impact Volunteering. That is using volunteerism to address city challenges or needs by developing a plan that is a measurable plan to explaining what the volunteers will do having specific tasks and responsibilities and having the volunteerism address the need. For instance having measurements as to what you are doing as a volunteer, measure what you are doing, what you are accomplishing. You don't' just get to that, you have to develop a plan to do that.

The history is that after NY and the first program in 2009 was successful, Bloomberg Philanthropy along with the Rockefeller foundation decided to fund twenty cities with a leadership grant – to hire a Chief Service Officer. The Cities of Service would hire or appoint a person to lead the effort to organize the volunteers and the program, the volunteers, the training they will have, the recognition, the events. But this is a Mayor led initiative. The officer is the implementer that engages with the mayor and engages the community.

Was there a movement of volunteerism or this is new?

Yes, of course, there was always volunteerism. The difference with Impact Volunteering through the Cities of Service Model, the community comes together with the mayor and decides what the priority issues are or priority challenges they are going to address, what they are going to focus on and how they will use volunteerism to improve that.

As Mayor Bloomberg has said or my Mayor says: Volunteering becomes part of the solution, using volunteer service as a part of the solution.

So they coordinate in order to achieve goals?

Correct, they coordinate – The Cities of Service Playbook is on line and it's a Citiesofservice.org and it is a step by step guide of how to implement the method in your city.

According to what results you want to achieve?

Yes, depending on your goal; what are the methods of the process you will use to get there and how will you determine you achieved that. The reason it's called impact volunteering is because you make an impact and the change occurs as a result of the volunteerism. So, in 2010 Bloomberg Philanthropy and Rockefeller Foundation both invested in the Cities of Service and they did a competitive process for a $200,000 grant for each city; there were twenty cities that received those grants in order to hire or appoint Chief Service Officer.

So the Chief Service Officer is a manager of the volunteers?

Yes, a person not only to manage, but also to develop the plan of how the volunteerism is going to accomplish the results you want to achieve. So, the officer manages, recruits, brings on various support staffing, brings on partners, companies, works with universities to help develop the performance measures, so it's engagement of all the different partners or stakeholders.

What is the motive for volunteers to come and work with you?

So, what the volunteers have told me, because I have worked with over 2,000 volunteers in the past three years, and what they have said is that they like to volunteer because they can use their interests, their knowledge, their passion to achieve a goal – they see there is an outcome and a result and they see this happen. Many of our programs involve working with youth, children and youth. So, even if some are six weeks in duration they can see the change they bring in the children's lives.

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