Through Virginia Beach’s robust Office of Volunteer Resources, which was founded in 1978, citizen volunteers engage members of the community in all aspects of city government.
Currently, Mayor Bobby Dyer is focusing on education and youth through Virginia Beach READS, the city’s effort to rally the entire community around ensuring that all students can read on or above grade level by third grade.
Using the Cities of Service Third Grade Reads Blueprint, Virginia Beach READS works with struggling first grade readers in six elementary schools to pair them up with citizen volunteer tutors. The tutors provide intensive yet fun literacy tutoring sessions twice per week for the entire school year. In partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, volunteer tutors receive extensive training in both effective instructional methods and techniques for increasing student engagement. Virginia Beach recognizes that citizen engagement and collaboration across multiple government, school, and community partners is key to successfully achieving collective impact on the issue of third grade reading proficiency.
In 2013, the city was one of five Cities of Service coalition cities to receive 1,000 hands-only CPR kits from the American Heart Association to assist in the training and implementation of Volunteer CPR, a Cities of Service high-impact strategy in which the mayor’s office, through partnerships with local medical professionals or emergency responders, trains volunteers to use a lifesaving hands-only CPR technique.
Virginia Beach has been a member of the Cities of Service coalition since 2009, when Mayor William Sessoms signed the Declaration of Service. Mayor Bobby Dyer reaffirmed the city’s commitment to service by signing the Declaration in 2019.
Mayor Robert M. "Bobby" Dyer
Prior to being elected, Mayor Bob Dyer served 14 years on City Council. In the private sector, Mayor Dyer works as a physical therapist and was previously an assistant professor in the School of Government at Regent University.
Volunteer Resources Coordinator Melissa Zibutis
Melissa has been Virginia Beach’s city lead for Cities of Service since 2012. Under Melissa’s leadership, the City of Virginia Beach Volunteer Program engages thousands of volunteers with 35 city departments and state agencies. She helped adapt the Third Grade Reads Blueprint into a successful tutor-mentor program and serves as the government liaison for the Long Term Recovery Effort of Hurricane Matthew as it relates to managing volunteers and donations.
What's Happening in Virginia Beach
“Service through volunteerism is one of the strongest forms of civic engagement a citizen can exhibit. By empowering our citizens to join the City of Virginia Beach in its decision making and service delivery – we become a more unified and innovative citizenry.”
Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer
of students who participated in the 2015 Summer Slide program maintained or gained literacy skills
of first grade students who participated in the Virginia Beach READS programs met or exceeded their First Grade Literacy benchmarks during the 2015/2016 academic year