Over the last nine years, the Sedona Park Rangers have volunteered thousands of hours, answered countless questions from visitors and have lent a helping hand for a variety of community events.
And, 2015 was no exception.
Last year, the Rangers provided 1,619 hours of community service. Since the program began in 2007, they have put in nearly 26,000 volunteer hours, while costing the city less than $24,000 for their services.
“Overall, the program went very smoothly,” said Bob Huggins, who founded and oversees the program. “We maintained our seven-day-a-week coverage and were able to meet all of the requests for event coverage. We didn’t lose any volunteers during the year and in fact gained one new person.”
Huggins said visitors are often “out of their element,” confused and disoriented. The Rangers provide a friendly point of contact that can answer questions, provide directions, suggest points of interest, handle emergencies and direct them to the Chamber Visitor Center, where they can get additional information.
“We have also been referred to as the eyes and ears of the city,” he said. “We can immediately report hazards and other problems that need immediate attention. We also pick up litter, check public restrooms — occasionally unplugging a toilet — talk to the merchants and listen to their needs.”
Some of the community events in which the Rangers assisted included:
- Sedona Marathon
- St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival
- Celebration of Spring at Posse Grounds Park
- Gate security for the July 4 laser show
- National Day of the Cowboy
- National Night Out
- Pumpkin Splash
- Veterans Day celebration
- Breakfast With Santa
Huggins said they are always looking for new volunteers. They currently have 11 but ideally they would like to have 15 Rangers. At the end of 2015, those volunteering as Rangers included Judy Huggins, Marie Brown, Marilyn Thaden Dexter, Jerry Showalter, Ned Isom, Bill Ferguson, Mark DiNunzio, Kim Girard, Michele Zahner, Tom Lamkin and Lynn Sine.
“We all enjoy talking to visitors and making them feel welcome,” he said. “Every day we meet visitors from every state and from all over the world. I think seeing the uniform and the friendly smile reassures visitors that we are there to help them and that we will do the best job that we can. Sometimes we may not speak the same language, but we always manage to answer their questions and hopefully leave them with a positive image of Sedona.”