• Dan Jones: Partnering for progress in Barre
     | March 03,2014

    The Barre Partnership has just established an important new partnership. But before I make the formal announcement, let me explain the need for this vital partnership and what it means going forward.

    The Barre Partnership, Barre’s nonprofit Main Street program, is governed, supported and, except for its paid executive director, completely dependent on local volunteers. In order to create the vital downtown community we all want, the teamwork of the paid staff of one and local volunteers is essential. The executive director of a Main Street program is meant to be an enabler of, not a substitute for, the local volunteers. These volunteers are needed to contribute their unique talents, skills and knowledge to the implementation of projects in the organization’s annual Work and Action Plans. They are meant to be the backbone of the organization, serving on the board, staffing planning committees, fueling events and activities, making decisions, and forging the future of the organization.

    In recent years the Barre Partnership has managed to function with the same small handful of dedicated volunteers trying to do the work normally required of a much larger group of volunteers. But in order to lead downtown Barre’s revitalization effort, including the development of a dynamic calendar of downtown events and promotions, incentives for downtown property owners to restore and improve their buildings, promotion of a new downtown brand and image, creation of a local creative economy, promotion of Barre as a tourist destination, recruitment of new businesses, support of existing businesses and much, much more, it is essential that our talented, dedicated local citizens step up to the plate and get involved.

    I am by no means faulting our local residents and Barre area business community for not getting involved in the past. The fault clearly lies with the Barre Partnership itself. It is common sense that people will not volunteer if they are not asked or provided the necessary information to make the decision to volunteer. That is why I am excited to announce a new, important relationship between the Barre Partnership and TD Bank.

    Thanks to the dedication of Shane Mispel, manager at the bank’s Barre branch, TD Bank is sponsoring a new volunteer organization whose sole purpose is to assist the Barre Partnership in recruiting, retaining and rewarding local volunteers, instituting a dynamic volunteer culture that will help us move downtown Barre forward. Shane conveyed that, “I am very excited to see the volunteer program come to fruition. It feels good to partner with the Barre Partnership establishing an organization that will build on the strength of the community and through that journey develop an even stronger sense of pride in Barre.”

    Together with our partners at TD Bank, we are ready to begin the building of a dynamic volunteer organization that will position us to aggressively pursue the objectives outlined in our work plan in the areas of promotions and marketing, design and streetscape, and economic revitalization. In order to do that we need a Volunteer Coordinator (or two co-coordinators) dedicated to downtown revitalization and our collective vision for the future. The Volunteer Coordinator(s) would assist the executive director with the management of all elements of volunteering — assessing the organization’s needs and then meeting those needs through the recruitment, retention and rewarding of volunteers.

    It requires strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills and the ability to inspire others. This important position offers a rewarding experience contributing to the building of an active volunteer culture, and provides the opportunity to interact with many different people and to make new friends. And it could also prove to be an excellent resume builder.

    As executive director of an organization very much in the public eye, it is part of my job to listen to positive suggestions as well as negative criticism from the public. But well-meaning community members eager to make suggestions or share their criticism are often not willing to then pitch in to bring their suggestion to fruition or to work on a solution to their criticism.

    The new Barre Partnership volunteer organization made possible by TD Bank will now provide everyone in the Barre area community with the information they need to make that decision to volunteer — to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to help create that vital downtown Barre we all went. And they might just have fun in the process.

    I challenge each and every one of you to volunteer — to join in our passion to make Barre the best place in Vermont to live, work, visit and do business. LOVE Barre and stay tuned.

    Dan Jones is the executive director of The Barre Partnership. He can be reached at 477-2967 or by email at director@thebarrepartnership.com.

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