Michael Yoakum is a junior at Rock Bridge High School, and one of more than 200 local residents who serves on the 32 boards and commissions that advise the Columbia City Council. Yoakum recently started a yearlong term on the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission.
“I’m very excited to have a voice, not just for myself but for other students,” he said.
Yoakum was one of the many city board members on hand Wednesday night at a reception sponsored by the city to honor those who volunteer their time to serve on city commissions.
“This is the perk,” Mayor Darwin Hindman said jokingly about the reception as he addressed the crowd of board members and their families. Hindman praised the attendees, saying that without the time and effort they contributed, Columbia would not be the community that it is. He compared the work of the board members to the work of the City Council.
“They serve just as you serve,” Hindman said. Members of the City Council, including the mayor, are not paid.
Maria Glaze, member of the Commission on Human Rights and Library Board, echoed the mayor’s sentiments, saying it would not be possible for the city to pay for the kind of service it receives from board volunteers. Glaze has served on Columbia boards for 20 years. She continues to serve “because I’m a glutton for punishment,” she said with a laugh.
Glaze said serving the city has taken a lot of her time. When the new library was being built, she said, it felt like the Library Board was meeting every day.
“I enjoy it, so I’ll keep doing it,” she said.
Norman Lenhardt serves on the Energy and Environment Commission because he believes that people don’t understand how important it is to find alternatives to fossil fuels.
“We won’t have oil forever, we won’t have coal forever,” he said, voicing a concern he developed after learning about the high fuel consumption of ships while serving in the Navy.
The reception was held at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department’s new facility at West Boulevard and West Worley Street.