ROXBURY, NJ - Even a brief glance over Judy Caruso’s shoulder at the Mount Arlington Dunkin’ Donuts last Tuesday morning would make your head spin. The mishmash of blocks, colors and codes on her laptop looked more like a Picasso painting than an Excel spreadsheet.
However, to her it all made perfect sense.
Caruso has the unenviable task of lining up 200 volunteers to frame one of the area’s most ambitious single-day events: The 5th Annual Lake Hopatcong Block Party, scheduled for Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Hopatcong State Park in Landing.
“We couldn’t pull off an event like this without lots of dedicated volunteers,” said Caruso, who serves as volunteer coordinator of the Block Party for the host Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF).
“Volunteers are the foundation of the Foundation," she said. "Many of them come back year after year, which is great.”
Caruso’s spreadsheet, while chaotic to the casual observer, is carefully designed to slot every volunteer - each with very specific responsibilities - into 2- to 4-hour shifts on the day of the Block Party. Together, volunteers will log the equivalent of 20 full-time workweeks in a single day.
Lots of Jobs Available
Caruso still needs to find about 150 people to serve as zone captains, runners, parkers and several other assorted tasks. At this point, the unfilled positions include the key role of an off-site parking coordinator. That person is needed to circulate between the five lots, beyond the bounds of the State Park, where an estimated 3,000 guests will be directed to park.
This year, Caruso is connecting with teachers to help with recruitment of student-volunteers from the high schools that serve the Lake Hopatcong area. Volunteering at the Block Party is an opportunity for students to log community-service hours.
Businesses are also encouraged to pull together a group of employees to volunteer. Those who do will receive a free event T-shirt and a chance to enjoy the Block Party before or after their shifts.
More than 100 of the volunteers will be needed for setup during the first shift on Saturday morning, 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., before the event even begins. Remaining shifts will be: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; noon until 4 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
“The volunteers’ reputation among vendors and guests is very high,” said Event Coordinator Lee Moreau, an LHF volunteer himself. “All the feedback we get is that the volunteers are exceptional.”
Eighty percent of the available booth spaces have already been reserved by 117 crafters, businesses, non-profits, food vendors and 28 sponsors for this year’s Block Party. The event’s lead sponsor is Live the Lake New Jersey, the mission of which includes providing opportunities for lake enthusiasts “to discover the natural beauty, historic charm and vibrant culture of Lake Hopatcong.”
“Our job, every year, is to maintain our volunteers’ reputation, so we do our best to give them all the training and support they need” said Moreau, noting that volunteers are urged to attend an evening training session before the event.
“We’re so grateful for having community members who so generously share their time, skills and expertise with us,” said Donna Macalle-Holly, acting executive director of the LHF. “When you volunteer for the Block Party you meet new people and experience a great community-building event on the lake.”
To sign up as a Block Party volunteer, visit lakehopatcongfoundation.org.