Furloughed workers use government shutdown time off to volunteer

October 2, 2013 10:05:18 AM PDT
Some employees at the Environmental Protection Agency in Research Triangle Park used the fact that they've been furloughed by the government shutdown to volunteer in Durham Wednesday.

A group did cleanup work at Herndon Park. Many EPA employees did the same thing during the last major government shutdown during the Clinton administration.

"The people you see here come to work with a real spirit of public service. We're continuing a tradition that was established during the last furlough in the 1990s by our colleagues, many of whom are now retired," explained EPA public affairs worker Alison Davis.

One of the EPA volunteers in Durham Wednesday does remember those days - and weeks - in the 90s without a paycheck.

"We had a little bit of savings and help from friends, family and parents that could tide us over. It was about a three or four week period," recalled Scott Mathias.

Mathias said he hopes this furlough won't last as long. For now, he's just happy to give back to the community.

"It's kind of an extension of what we do every day in the office. It's not an office building, but we're trying to help," he explained.

And after picking up litter around the park and out on Herndon Road, the volunteers said they're not done.

"We'll be looking for other volunteer opportunities as long as the shutdown continues.  It's something positive to do during an unfortunate situation," said Davis.

More on how to join the volunteer effort can be found at this website: http://2013shutdownvolunteer.wordpress.com/

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