By Bob Reilly
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 statistics, the population of Laurel is 29,490 people. Laurel is the 10th largest city in the state of Maryland, with a population density of approximately 5,000 people per square mile. The median age for people living here is 36.
The racial composition of Laurel, according to the most recent American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, is as follows: Black or African American: 50.73%, White: 23.53%, other: 10.28%, Asian: 8.28%, two or more races: 6.59%, Native American: 0.58%.
Considering the above statistics and the diversity of our population, our city’s individual and corporate needs are great indeed. One person who realizes the many needs of Laurel residents is Mayor Craig Moe.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Moe recently in front of the Laurel Municipal Center. I asked him, “What do you believe are the top three needs in Laurel?”
Without hesitation, he said, “From my standpoint, here are the three greatest needs of our city. I would say volunteers are needed across the spectrum of organizations, government, nonprofit and otherwise. As a matter of fact, the city of Laurel will have our volunteer fair on April 19. The growing fentanyl and other hybrid opioids crisis is severely impacting our community. The Laurel police, first responders, hospital personnel and families of the overdose victims are experiencing this crisis first-hand. Our community and families need to be better educated in this area. Finally, the ever-present need for revenue, or money, for our city.“
So, there you have it: volunteers, fentanyl and revenue are Moe’s top three.
For this column, I will highlight volunteerism.
“No city can run efficiently without volunteers,” Moe said. “Communities with little volunteer engagement suffer a great civic loss. An engaged community grows and thrives together.”
Logically, if the city’s workforce is supported by volunteers, their capacity to serve Laurel residents is greater.
My next stop was the city of Laurel Volunteer Fair at the Laurel City Municipal Center on April 19.
The event drew a capacity crowd with standing room only for the presentations. The group consisted of a mix of city staff and residents seeking information on volunteering. Moe provided opening remarks and turned the microphone over to Carreen Koubek, special assistant to the city administrator, who introduced presenters. Each presenter talked about their organization’s current and future needs and emphasized the importance of volunteering.
Specific values they discussed included the benefits of investing in one’s community, how developing new skills boosts self esteem and the ways in which volunteering creates and reinforces individuals’ connections within the community. Presenters also underscored that students can earn community service hours through volunteer work.
And, of course, volunteers have some fun!
Following the presentations, attendees filled the adjoining hallway to peruse information tables and talk with representatives from participating organizations.
I asked Koubek if she could highlight some of the city’s current and long-term needs for volunteers.
“Laurel is bringing back the popular farmers market on May 11. We need assistance there. Juneteenth and the Fourth of July events are almost upon us as well. May 20 is our annual Main Street Festival, so there could be last minute needs to support the festival,” Koubek said. “Looking toward the fall, we definitely need help with the Pride event on October 14 along with election judges for early voting and Election Day in November.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about these and other volunteer opportunities in Laurel, go to cityoflaurel.org and click on Volunteer Laurel, then scroll down to the volunteer form. You can also reach out directly to Koubek at 301.725.5300 ext. 2109.
Let’s build our volunteer workforce together to make Laurel a stronger, robust community.