League of California Cities

City of South Lake Tahoe Recruits Volunteers for Safety Ambassador Program

SouthLakeTahoeAmbassadors-KCRA-screen-shot-(1).pngRealizing that peer-to-peer communication is often very effective in driving change, city officials in South Lake Tahoe recently launched a resident-led safety ambassador program. Residents who sign up to volunteer for the program are supplied with face masks from the city and then they hit the streets to encourage fellow residents and visitors to “mask up.”

“Our goal is to ensure people have the tools they need to keep themselves and everyone around them safe,” said South Lake Tahoe City Manager Joe Irvin. “We also want to help our business community stay open and keep their patrons safe. At the end of the day, we are all in this together.”

The city ordered 2,000 masks to distribute to volunteers who need one along with flyers to help educate members of the public. Within just a few weeks the city had more than a dozen people sign up to volunteer and said they get more every week. They shared information about the new program on the city’s social media channels and through their email and text alerts. The volunteer ambassador program has also been featured in several news stories which has helped raise visibility of this unique effort.  

“Our volunteers have encountered little resistance and in fact they have seen the majority of people following state and county mask guidelines,” said South Lake Tahoe Communications Manager Chris Fiore. “It really is a multi-faceted approach that is paying dividends for our residents, visitors, and volunteers.”

As part of the onboarding process, volunteers fill out an application, watch a video from the city manager, and pick up a labeled vest, proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and educational materials. Ambassadors are able to pick the hours they want to volunteer and are asked to log their time each week. The city says there is no end date for the program as they are focused on ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors.

“This is a community that cares about others,” continued Irvin. “The harder we work to keep everyone safe, the easier it will be to keep Tahoe open and continue to help our businesses and residents weather this pandemic.”

This story was featured in the CA Cities Advocate Newsletter on Aug. 19, 2020
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