Mayor’s Column: Volunteer Opportunities

Mayor Collen Bianco Bezich discusses opportunities to get involved with the Borough through volunteering.

This month marks the start of a new year, and while we all know there are challenges ahead, it’s a great time to be open to new opportunities, as well. One such opportunity is the ability to serve as a volunteer. 

Did you know that we have numerous boards, committees & commissions that help shape Borough policy, implement plans & contribute to our quality of life? Depending on your interests and availability, I’m confident we can find the right fit for you, and our larger community will be better for it. Interested in the economic vitality of Downtown Haddonfield? Consider joining the Partnership for Haddonfield, which manages our local business improvement district.  Concerned about building trends, historic preservation or climate change and flooding caused by stormwater? Our Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Historic Preservation Commission or Environmental Commission may be for you.  

To learn more about the existing opportunities or consider volunteering in the future, please visit our website: 

http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/boards_and_committees/index.php

Even if there is not a current vacancy on the board or commission that interests you, attending a meeting (all meetings are currently being held via Zoom!) is a great way to learn more, contribute ideas, or ask questions of existing members.  We often have members resign due to changes in their employment or family commitments, so there is always a need for volunteers, and there are also many ways to incorporate non-members in upcoming & ongoing projects.  

As we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, I am reminded of his words, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” We belong to a community rich in talent & treasure. And so many of our neighbors give of their time.  Aside from our own Borough boards, committees & commissions, organizations like Haddon Fire Company No. 1, the Celebrations Association, Lions Club, Rotary, and the Haddonfield Friends of the Library all provide opportunities for service within and beyond our immediate neighborhoods. 

Being a Lion and a member of Celebrations myself, I’ve found much personal fulfillment – especially over the last two years – because countless hours have been spent reinventing what we knew as “normal,” reinforcing personal connections, and creating moments of joy for residents of all ages. Whether it was distributing Boo Bags for Halloween in 2020, or coming together to bestow the William G. Hansen Youth of the Year Award in 2021, these gatherings and community events will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Because of the relationships & bonds that have been formed & strengthened through these organizations, many lives have been enriched. And, thanks to our volunteer first responders, lives have been saved.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also touch upon the benefits of connecting with members of our community that you may otherwise never meet.  There is something very special about forming friendships and making lasting memories with those who have different backgrounds & professions, or those who may be in a different stage of life.  When tackling the issues before the Board of Commissioners, being exposed and open to diverse ideas, life experiences and opinions enables me to better meet the needs of our community. It has also been my experience that when bonds are formed in the service of others, they allow us to recognize one another as neighbors, instead of enemies.  

So, while handshakes, hugs and in-person meetings may be on hold for a while longer, I invite you to join me – and the hundreds of volunteers who call Haddonfield home – in acts of service this year.

To all those who already volunteer, THANK YOU! YOU make our Borough the amazing community that it is.

And, finally, if you are unable to volunteer right now for any reason, please know that’s ok, too. There are times when being of service to the larger community means taking care of yourself.  

In closing, I ask that you stay tuned for more information on our first Community Service Collaborative – a monthly roundtable to feature introductions and upcoming events so that everyone can learn more about our service organizations and opportunities to give back.