RSVP Volunteer Bailiffs Continue Successful Program

Since 2000, the Sherburne County Minnesota Sheriff’s Office and Court Administration have had Greater St. Cloud Area RSVP volunteers assisting to meet the missions of their departments. The volunteers serve as Volunteer Bailiff Assistants. There are four volunteers scheduled each day that court is in session to run the errands of the court such as greeting people reporting for court, delivering/retrieving files, making copies, securing signatures, transferring messages and escorting court attendees to other locations in the county building. In a year’s time, about 25 RSVP volunteers record over 6,000 hours of service time to Sherburne County.
Nicole Stottlemyre, the volunteer supervisor, recently commented on the impact that the RSVP volunteers make through their service: “The volunteer bailiffs provide a welcoming and helpful first point of contact for people coming into the courthouse. These people are often confused, overwhelmed, and nervous about the court process, but our volunteers put them at ease by being available to assist them in getting their questions answered or getting to the places they need to be.”
The idea to request RSVP volunteers’ help in the courts came up when it became critical for the Sheriff’s security staff to remain in the courtroom at all times. Stottlemyre commented that when security staff left the courtroom they were less available to maintain safety, order, and decorum in the courtroom. Volunteers now are the ones to leave the courtroom, not the security staff.
Besides offering taxpayer savings and increased security, the volunteers recognize their vital role in setting people at ease with an unfamiliar process. Al, an RSVP Volunteer Bailiff Assistant said, “The volunteers offer friendly faces, non-judgmental attitudes and are helpful. (They) also help relieve a lot of stress with a process that can be difficult.”
A few of the current volunteers have been in the position from the very beginning. Two such volunteers are a husband/wife team, Don and Donna. Donna recently shared why they continue to enjoy serving their community as RSVP Volunteer Bailiff Assistants, “We like feeling useful to the community. It is an important position that is not hard work, is very interesting, and we are always learning new things.” It seems that with all these benefits to the community and RSVP volunteers, the Sherburne County RSVP Volunteer Bailiff Program will be around for quite some time, still!

-Charlotte Strei