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Volunteer programs get under way Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Apr 09 2011 12:00 PM

Chula Vista has seen its share of budget cuts in the last four years.

Departments have been consolidated, employees contributed to pension reform and severe cuts were made to services including libraries, recreation and public safety.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said that any time a city faces a decline in revenues and the residents still want the services the city provides, it's important to look at options.

A new option for the city became available when a $200,000 two-year grant became available last year to hire a chief service officer, allowing the nonprofit sector to do more with less.

"We're looking at how to fill the financial gap and provide services," Cox said in November.

Cities of Service was launched in partnership with the city of Chula Vista and Cities of Service as a campaign to engage residents in volunteer efforts.

"This is an opportunity to remember the value of what we can accomplish by coming together and building relationships," Chula Vista chief service officer Wanda Bailey said.

Cox hired Bailey in October to increase strategic volunteerism in the city.

Bailey, 52, has more than 25 years of experience in the service and philanthropic sector, working with local and national organizations.

Last month Cox launched Chula Visa Serves, a series of campaigns that focuses on volunteer human resources.

There are three campaigns within the service plan, which include Graduation Works!, Community Health Connection and the Centennial Year of Service.

One of the challenges facing Chula Vista is the low graduation rate. A career pathways program focuses on sophomores and promotes graduating with entry-level job readiness.

"The educational outcomes focus on promoting mentoring opportunities and helping kids get connected," Bailey said.

"We want to help people understand that mentoring has an impact on graduation rates."

The Community Health Connection campaign will focus on engaging volunteers to connect residents with available resources, as well as create innovative strategies to address the health and well being of residents.

Volunteerism is also promoted through the Centennial Year of Service campaign, which challenges residents to serve through existing and new opportunities.

Bailey is currently working with 20 organizations across the country including civic groups, the government and private and nonprofit sectors.

Bailey said there will never be enough resources and that it takes a community to make things work.

""People generally care and want to get involved but don't know where to start."

Chula Vista Serves gives people an opportunity to serve, inspire, share and connect.

"In the end volunteers provide a higher quality of service," Bailey said.

The first high-impact service plan was developed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg when he created NYC Service and hired the nation's first chief service officer in 2009.

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