Major changes could be coming for Manatee County volunteers

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 8:11 PM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - The approval for a new volunteer program in Manatee County is on the agenda for the Board of County Commissioners meeting on August 8.

“Volunteers are crucial to the county. In the slide presentation that they plan to present this week, it includes the notation that volunteers save the county $18 million,” says Cathy Bridwell.

Bridwell is one of 11 volunteers who were fired from Manatee County Animal Welfare in June. She says this new program called “Volunteers in Action” will drive away crucial help in part because of a required orientation hosted by the county’s human resources department once a month.

“This is going to mean a lot less volunteers across the board for the county. How many people do you think will actually be able to do that?” says Bridwell.

The county’s HR department hopes this creates more uniform standards for all volunteers, but it is leading to concerns shared by another volunteer who was fired from animal welfare, Cindy Reno.

“It’s really had a huge negative impact on everybody. The morale at the shelter is at an all-time low,” says Reno. “It’s really taken its toll on everybody, especially the dogs. The kennels aren’t getting cleaned. I’ve seen numerous pictures of dirty kennels and dogs not getting out in a timely manner.”

ABC7 reached out to Manatee County for comment, and they said staff members aren’t available to speak on the issue until it is presented to the Board of County Commissioners during the August 8 meeting.