As government shuts down, EPA workers volunteer to help communities
'We're public servants,' say EPA employees in North Carolina. Despite being told to stay home, they're out doing good.
Fri, Oct 04, 2013 at 01:13 PM
When workers at the EPA offices in North Carolina were told they couldn't come to work because of the government shutdown, they decided to make the best of a bad situation.
Despite receiving no paycheck, and not being sure when they'll be able to work again, these public sector workers are organizing a volunteer event every day to give back to the community. It is, in part, a way to keep busy.
Here's how Alison Davis, a furloughed employee, explained the volunteer actions to local news outlet WRAL:
I'd much rather be able to work. Right now, I'm trying to take it one day at a time and stay positive.
So far, actions have included cleaning up a local park, fixing a pier at a recreation lake, and volunteering at Ronald McDonald House. For Liz Naess, another furloughed EPA employee, such actions are just a part of the culture of her workplace:
I've never worked anywhere where I've had colleagues who care as much about their roles and responsibilities. We're career public servants. We do what we do because we like to give back to our communities. When we're unable to do our jobs because of politicking in Washington, we worry about the projects that aren't happening and the work that isn't getting done. This seems like a way for us to continue to have a positive impact.
According to Naess, the recent volunteer efforts by EPA employees are not a new phenomenon. Any time there's been talk of a shutdown or furlough in recent years, plans have started circulating about how to spend that time effectively:
We don't really talk about it at work, and this isn't coming from our bosses. Word just spreads organically and people get together to do good because it comes naturally to them. Of course, I love my colleagues — so this is also a way for us to get together, stay in touch, and maintain team cohesion and mutual support during a stressful period in our lives.
With no sign of the government shutdown coming to an end anytime soon, it seems likely that many public servants will remain unpaid and unable to do their jobs. But that doesn't mean that they won't continue their public service.
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