FARMINGTON City of Farmington department heads are brainstorming ways to involve volunteers more in city services, programs and local government as the Mayor's Volunteer Program, or MVP, expands.

"The idea is to institutionalize more formally a volunteer program and to provide more information to those looking for volunteer opportunities," said Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts, who is running for re-election this March against challenger Matt Dodson.

The program went live on the city's website in mid-January, said Elizabeth Isenberg, government relations and special projects director. But city staff are still identifying more city-wide volunteer opportunities. Staff have been refining the program for more than a year, Isenberg said.

Within the MVP are various programs that allow civic engagement. The Citizen Involvement Program seeks volunteers to sit on boards, commissions or committees. Other programs are the Citizen Insight Academy and Citizen Police Academy.

To help place MVP volunteers, the Farmington Public Library in late October created a volunteer coordinator position. Jonathan Bacon, who filled that position, said civic involvement strengthens the community's bond.

"They're not coming to get a paycheck. They're coming to do good," he said of the volunteers.

Seven volunteer positions exist at the library. MVP participants can shelve books, facilitate the adult book group, teach about basic Internet, tablet and smart phone use, assist in processing new library materials, greet library users and help publish "Blended Zine," an art and literature magazine for San Juan County's youth.

With the library's recent budget and staff cuts, the MVP volunteers are a helpful addition to the building's workforce, Bacon said.

"This helps us not cut back as much, so we can offer a service as best we can," he said.

Dodson said he would support the program if he was elected mayor.

It would provide residents a way to fill their free time, and the social interaction is healthy, he said.

"It sounds like a really great program," he said.

Learn more about the Mayor's Volunteer Program on the city's website.


Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.