News: Corps opens Volunteer Village at J. Strom Thurmond Lake
Story by Tracy Robillard
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District announces the completion and operation of a newly-constructed, stand-alone campground specifically for volunteers at the J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake Project.
Known as the Volunteer Village, the amenities are free of charge for volunteers who work 20 hours or more per week. The village features 12 campsites with water/electrical hook-ups, a high speed internet connection, and a boat ramp on a scenic peninsula near Modoc, S.C. The village is not a public park but is a private residence for volunteers who have been accepted into the program through the Thurmond Project’s volunteer coordinator, David Quebedeaux.
“We have volunteers working with us at Thurmond Lake who have contributed many hours of important service in recent years,” Quebedeaux said. “Many of these volunteers come out to the lake on a daily basis to help with maintenance needs, visitor assistance, wildlife programs, and other valuable and exciting programs. We are proud to complete phase one of the village to better serve these outstanding volunteers.”
Volunteers often stay at the village for a period of several months while they work on projects or provide public services at the lake. However, volunteer arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, depending on availability and staffing needs.
Many other Corps locations across the country have similar facilities to foster volunteerism on public lands. In fact, another Savannah District reservoir further upstream, Hartwell Dam and Lake in Hartwell, Ga., launched a similar initiative in 2010.
A common misconception is that volunteer efforts will take jobs away from paid employees. This is not the case at Thurmond Lake. “Our volunteers only perform services that the Corps could not have afforded otherwise,” said Thurmond Lake Park Operations Manager, Aaron Wahus. “With our budgets shrinking and visitation to the lake remaining high, it only makes sense to get volunteers involved. They provide a range of skills and services to our recreation and natural resource programs.”
“There are some really talented citizens who volunteer here at the lake,” Quebedeaux said. “Our volunteers have had long careers where they were compensated with a paycheck. The pay for volunteering here is usually a big smile in the mirror.”
Anyone interested in volunteer opportunities at any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects should visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Volunteer Program Nationwide Volunteer Clearinghouse on the web at: http://www.orn.usace.army.mil/volunteer/default.html or call the volunteer hotline at 1-800-VOL-TEER