Volunteers play an essential role in area recreation

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Eddie Hargrave just wanted to do something for the children &045; both his and the community’s.

So several years ago &045; more than 10, although he can’t remember exactly how many now &045; he started coaching and sponsoring teams in the City of Natchez’s Youth Basketball League.

He also takes his and other teams out to lunches and holds a barbecue for them at the end of the season.

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&uot;I wanted to get involved in the community with youth, mostly to keep them out of the streets,&uot; said Hargrave, who lives in Vidalia. &uot;I want them to keep on the straight and narrow &045; not just my children and grandchildren, but all children.&uot;

Wilbert Whittley, city recreation program director and park maintenance administrator, oversees the league and said it, like so many recreation programs, couldn’t be run without volunteers such as Hargrave.

&uot;Folks volunteer as coaches, help out when we’re shorthanded at the concession stand, officiate and just generally keep the kids in line,&uot; Whittley said.

&uot;We don’t have the staff to do it with employees alone. So without our volunteers, we could not have a league.&uot;

That was seconded by Don Joseph, a board member for Concordia Parish Recreation District No. 3, which serves the Vidalia area.

&uot;In your leagues, volunteers are essential for so many things &045; to serve on the boards, to work the concessions, to coach,&uot; Joseph said.

In addition, many local businesses and organizations volunteer their time in addition to donating money.

Many Recreation Department maintenance and construction projects have been taken up by groups contributing labor, city Recreation Director Ralph Tedder said.

In the last 12 years, such groups have included, but are not limited to:

4Camo Construction, which provided labor for moving bleachers, building the Covington Road press box, repairing a golf course bridge and making repairs at the spraygrounds.

4International Paper, which rebuilt the pool building at Duncan Park and started construction work to rebuild North Natchez Park.

4Fidelity Tire which, along with IP, rebuilt the Concordia Avenue neighborhood park.

4Golf support groups, which renovated the interior of the golf clubhouse.

4The Auburn Garden Club, which maintains flower beds at Duncan Park’s entrance.

4After All Inc., which maintains flower beds at the Concord Avenue Park.

4The Natchez Garden Club, which maintains flower beds at the Duncan Park sign.

4Boy Scout Troop 170, which clean and defoliated the Duncan Park nature trail.

4About 110 youth and adult volunteers who participated in a &uot;Spruce Up Duncan Park&uot; day.

&uot;There’s no way we could do it all without that help,&uot; Tedder said.