VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.(WAVY) – The Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission is looking for volunteers to serve as independent observers during Something in the Water.
The Independent Observer Program observes citizens, city services, and visitors to assess the safety of the event and whether or not its potentially violating or discriminating human rights, a news release states.
Carla Hesseltine who serves as the HRC chair tells 10 On Your Side the program has been around since the 1990’s.
“To evaluate diversity and inclusivity. To make recommendations to the HRC via reports completed of an online survey that we do that was forwarded to the city. We’ve been doing this for years. It’s not just SITW. We do this for other events throughout the year and any holiday weekend,” Hesseltine stated.
She hopes to have 100 volunteers festival weekend.
Volunteers for SITW will be walking along Atlantic Avenue between 5th and 31st streets during the festival. They will be responsible for observing parking garages, businesses, hotels/motels, and the activities and interactions of people in the area.
Those who are interested in volunteering must be 18 years of age or older and needs to have cell phone access. Volunteers also must be able to stand and walk for three-hour shifts in large crowds.
The Independent Observer Program’s final report for SITW 2019 included communication, traffic and transportation concerns. The city listened and has since created multiple channels of information including a text line and city blog along with less road closures this time around. The 2019 report also stated the experience was overwhelmingly positive and supportive.
“It’s a great way to see the services and see the city in action. I’m not cheerleading for the city but they are doing a phenomenal job,” Hesseltine said.
Observers will work alongside law enforcement and have officers on speed dial in case of an emergency.
To sign up to be an observer and to access the shift schedule, click here.