City of Green Bay encourages volunteering with new employee proposal

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich is hoping to make volunteering a priority for the city by offering employees time off to do it.

It’s something leaders have been considering for a while now and finally feel like they have the support to make it a reality.

Much like many of us who have PTO, or paid time off, from work, the city is hoping to start new program called VTO, or volunteer time off.

The program still needs to be approved by Green Bay’s City Council, but the policy would give City of Green Bay employees three days a year of paid time off to volunteer with an organization of their choosing.

Green Bay has about 1,000 employees that would be eligible for this policy if it gets the green light on May 21.

The city’s human resources director, Joe Faulds, said an employee would still have to get permission to take the day off just like a normal vacation request.

“The employee is going to work with a supervisor to make sure their operational needs are met. Then if it’s OK to leave, they will fill out a form and volunteer,” said Faulds. Once the employee is done volunteering, they will check back in with the supervisor to confirm hours volunteered.

“We are not offering employees the ability to roll these over or cash them out,” said Mayor Genrich. “This is a separate category with safeguards in place where it won't be abused. You have to be active with the charitable cause and get approval from supervisor as well.”

Mayor Genrich said this won't impact taxpayers except to improve the communities in which they live.

“There shouldn't be a cost on the books for us,” said Genrich. “If we are sending that message with our employees that this is a priority for the city, obviously the impact could be sizable and positive.”

Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity’s volunteer director is looking forward to more help all year long.

“We'd always have a need for volunteers. We build 12 months out of the year,” said Jennifer Maier. “We build and sell homes in the Green Bay area to qualified homeowners, so we are just bridging the gap between rental and home ownership.”

Maier is hopeful the new policy would help get more volunteers during the day.

“It's hard to build a house in the dark,” said Maier. “It’s a great work/life balance. A lot of people are busy on the weekends, and so it’s a great way to volunteer and give back to the community.”

"The City of Green Bay, as an employer, is interested in being a 21st century work place, and that is what folks are looking for these days are some flexibility and kind of that mission-driven mindset," Genrich said.

Volunteer Center of Brown County works with 180 non-profits in the area and are more than willing to help volunteers find the right fit.

"The need for volunteers in Brown County is great," said Eric Sponholtz, the executive director of the Volunteer Center of Brown County. "I think there are a lot of different areas and different passions people can find and I think a volunteer doesn't know going in what they want to do, so the center likes to fill that void and provide information."