Even a brief glance over Judy Caruso’s shoulder would make your head spin. The mishmash of blocks, colors, and codes on her laptop look more like a Picasso painting than an Excel spreadsheet. To her, however, it all makes perfect sense.
Caruso is lining up 200 volunteers to frame one of the area’s most ambitious single-day events: the Fifth Annual Lake Hopatcong Block Party, scheduled for Saturday, May 12, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Hopatcong State Park.
“We couldn’t pull off an event like this without lots of dedicated volunteers,” said Caruso, volunteer coordinator of the block party for the host Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF). “Volunteers are the foundation of the Foundation. 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 shifts of two to four hours on the day of the block party. Together, volunteers will log the equivalent of 20 fulltime workweeks in a single day. About 150 more people are needed as zone captains, runners, and parkers. Other tasks must be handled as well, including the key role of off-site parking coordinator. This volunteer circulates among the five lots beyond the bounds of the state park, where an estimated 3,000 guest vehicles will be directed.
More than 100 volunteers will work on setup during the first shift on Saturday morning (6:30 to 9:00) prior to the event’s opening. Remaining shifts are 9:00-12:30, noon to 4:00, and 4:00-6:00.
This year, Caruso is connecting with teachers to help recruit student volunteers from the high schools serving the Lake Hopatcong area, providing them an opportunity to log community service hours. Businesses are welcome to pull together a group of volunteer employees, all of whom will receive a free event T-shirt and a chance to enjoy the block party before or after their shifts.
“The volunteers’ reputation among vendors and guests is very high,” said event coordinator Lee Moreau, who is also an LHF volunteer. He noted that volunteers are urged to attend an evening session before the event to receive the training and support needed to carry out their assignments.
Eighty percent of available booth spaces for this year’s block party have already been reserved by 117 crafters, businesses, nonprofits, food vendors, and 28 sponsors. The event’s lead sponsor is Live the Lake New Jersey, whose mission includes providing opportunities for lake enthusiasts “to discover the natural beauty, historic charm, and vibrant culture of Lake Hopatcong.”
“We’re so grateful for 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.