New program lets volunteers live for free at the lake

By: Justin Fabiano Email
By: Justin Fabiano Email
Chrissy Westerberg

Ranger Chrissy Westerberg told News 12 about a new program that allows you to live in your RV at the lake for free, so long as you help the Army Corps of Engineers through volunteer work. (May 31, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 O'Clock / Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CLARKS HILL, Ga. --- We're all trying to save as much money as we can these days. Some of us clip coupons, others are driving less, and some are even canceling vacations this summer. But none of those things would save us the amount of money we'd save if we could live somewhere for free. It might sound too good to be true, but it is true. J. Strom Thurmond Lake at Clarks Hill will open a volunteer village for campers this fall.

"We are really excited about this," said Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Chief Ranger Chrissy Westerberg. "This is a new program we're implementing."

The program will give people who decide to live in RVs a free place to live for no money.

"The idea of the volunteer village and the volunteer program is to provide volunteers with a free place to stay in exchange for them helping us with our programs at the lake," Westerberg said.

They'd be helping out with things like making sure visitors check in and out, pay their fees, and are being safe at the campgrounds.

Rangers think it's a win-win. Campers get a free place to live, and Strom Thurmond Lake finds free labor. But the real winner could be you. Budget cuts have affected the lake; the volunteer village is one way they're making up for the cuts.

Westerberg says, "This is just an opportunity to continue to provide what we do provide to the public currently, but with a smaller budget."

Rangers say the volunteer village will save J. Strom Thurmond Lake at Clarks Hill thousands of dollars.The exact dollar amount, however, will depend on how many volunteers sign up to live in the volunteer village and how many hours they volunteer.

Volunteers are expected to be able to start living and working in the village October 1st, and Rangers expect space to fill up fast.

"We have definitely been talking closely with potential volunteers and we have a couple that are interested in moving in once we have the volunteer village complete," Westerberg said.

Volunteers will live in the village for about six months at a time. If you want to sign up, you have to do it in person. Just go to the Army Corps of Engineers visitor center on J. Strom Thurmond Lake at Clarks Hill, and fill out an application.

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