Athenians urged to devote time to improve life in city

Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis has urged Athenians to join up as members of two new volunteer programs that will cover a wide range of activities from monitoring children’s playgrounds and parks, environmental and cultural activities, organizing sporting events and supporting social services. All comers are welcome to join a «Time Bank» where volunteers declare the hours they can be available and the area they are particularly interested in. The initial goal of the new program is for groups of volunteers to act as «guardians» of specific parks and playgrounds. Interested parties can apply from now until the end of January to any of the municipality’s seven departmental bureaus or by calling 195. Already 1,400 of the 3,500 people who had joined the mayor’s Olympic volunteer program have signed up for the new effort. The municipality’s Organization for Youth and Sport, which is responsible for the volunteer drive, is to meet with the remaining volunteers get them involved. The municipality will then begin seminars adapted to the volunteers’ profiles, as the aim is to activate specific population groups for each activity. For example, grandmothers and grandfathers will be put in charge of playgrounds and parks. «We want you become active in areas that you are now seeing passively,» urged Bakoyannis. «Become a volunteer for the City of Athens and act now. Let the authorities know what problems there are, talk to those who do not respect the city and who are indifferent to the interest and the well-being of the neighborhood. We are asking volunteers to be there and to mobilize the municipal services. We are asking for your interest and your awareness of your neighborhood,» she said.