Dennis Potvin - Tennessee Democrat

Truly a Volunteer State

Tennessee is the Volunteer State, and employers need to do more to encourage workers to share their time doing volunteer work through a state VOLUNTEER Program. This program will allow approved charities such as United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and City Parks & Recreation to solicit volunteer help through employers. Employers will encourage employees to volunteer to coach, to mentor or help in any way possible and grant those employees up to four hours per week of unpaid leave to do so.

Volunteer to make a difference! Having the ability to leave work two hours early, two days per week to allow time for coaching practices and games will only strengthen our communities. For the many who work off-shift hours, having the ability to take two- or four-hour leaves for coaching or otherwise contributing will greatly expand the number of volunteers who give their time to our less fortunate. Even as a manager in the high-intensity world of automotive manufacturing, I was able to grant unpaid time off to subordinates whom I knew were volunteering in our community. I worked around their volunteer schedule because I knew how badly our city needed good people to give their time to our kids. It was always a small, select few who requested the time off, and their absences were easily covered.

The VOLUNTEER Program cannot be manipulated in ways to discredit it. Charity organizations and youth sports teams must contact employers first and certify as an official program recipient before workers can be allowed to miss work. I know that every minute is crucial to every employer. But, with two decades of management under my belt, I also know that businesses and factories may be flexible enough to allow volunteers to serve in their community, too.

Let’s truly make Tennessee a state of Volunteers.

© 2017 Dennis Potvin
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