Sheila Jackson of Largo is a volunteer Courthouse Ambassador who helps citizens find their way at the Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater.
CLEARWATER – Anyone who has ever visited the Pinellas County Courthouse in downtown Clearwater has more than likely seen one of the volunteer ambassadors at the information station located in the first floor lobby.
Perhaps they were giving out directions to where Courtroom A was, telling a visitor where to go to pay property taxes, or just greeting a passerby.
According to Pinellas County Communications Senior Office Specialist Stella Mansfield, Pinellas County is always looking for more volunteer courthouse ambassadors.
“The ambassador gets to know a lot about how Pinellas County, the courthouse and the different departments function,” said Mansfield. “It’s very interesting, especially if you’re civic-minded and have an interest in government.”
In some cases, the information desk is the first interaction a person has with Pinellas County government. Pinellas County is looking for volunteers that are friendly, upbeat and helpful, Mansfield said, “because we would like the public to go away with a positive feeling about Pinellas County.”
Those who are currently ambassadors include Bob and Susan Tuttle, a husband and wife from Palm Harbor, who for the past two years have volunteered Monday mornings at the courthouse.
Before retiring Bob worked as a respiratory therapist while Susan was an attorney. Susan said they both “wanted to keep busy” so they decided to volunteer. She said she was interested in doing something government-related while Bob was thinking of something to do with hospitals. They decided to serve as courthouse ambassadors.
They both take pleasure in being information representatives. Bob said it’s enjoyable and interesting and much better than staying home staring at the walls. Susan added, “The people here are really nice.”
Sheila Jackson is another courthouse ambassador who loves what she does. Jackson lives in Largo and has also been volunteering about two years. She decided to volunteer because she said not only was she bored just sitting around the house but also had relatives who work in the courthouse.
Jackson said of being a courthouse ambassador “I like meeting people and I love every second of it.” She added that “most people are really nice and pleasant and thankful” even if what they’ve come to the courthouse isn’t pleasant.
Mansfield said training for courthouse ambassadors is provided, along with information about safety, scheduling, policies and procedures. Shifts are available Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 to 5 p.m. A person can volunteer for one shift or more per week.
For more information about the Courthouse Ambassador Volunteer Program, contact Stella Mansfield at 464-3000.