The retired life

Retired city manager gives back through volunteering

Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010

Being a retired city manager has its perks. For Kevin Ritchie, the main one as of late has been the extra time he has to exercise his dog, Diego.

Kim Andree / Juneau Empire
Kim Andree / Juneau Empire

"I walk at least once a day at Sandy Beach and work with 10 or so other regular dog walkers to pick up dangerous shards of broken glass bottles that appear daily with each new tide," Ritchie said.

Yet even during his recreational time, this avid but humble volunteer does what he can to help the community.

"I strongly believe that the purpose of life is to leave the world a little bit better than you found it, in whatever small ways you can," he said. "My current goal is to make a contribution to the community in a combination of volunteer activities and some consulting work with programs that help people."

As if his 17-year career with the city, seven as city manager, wasn't enough, Ritchie currently volunteers for Catholic Community Services, Juneau Economic Development Council, Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club, Juneau Volunteer Firefighters Association and United Way - to name a few.

Since retiring in 2007, Ritchie has done some low-cost consulting and meeting facilitation for local nonprofit social service agencies. He also has small contracts to coordinate the Western Municipal Association, a developing association of western state cities.

"I found there was kind of a need for social service agencies for help with strategic planning of management issues and things like that," he said. "It's good to be able to help that way."

Ritchie said his most fulfilling volunteer job is with the Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club, coordinating and working in its Senior/Disabled Home Repair Program.

"Our Rotary Club has design and construction professions, and handypersons who do minor home repairs, build wheelchair ramps and make other accessibility improvements for people who cannot afford to hire people to do it for themselves," he said. "While there are several programs that supply money to purchase materials, there is a gap in our community for people to provide labor for repairs and improvements."

Ritchie also has enjoyed taking on short-term projects such as grant writing and construction for Project Playground at Twin Lakes, and developing a program for Catholic Community Service and Alaska Electric Light & Power to reimburse lower-income households for the electricity costs during the avalanche that knocked out Juneau's hydropower feed.

He recently stepped in when the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska lost part of its federal funding and decided it had to close the Juneau club on short notice.

"Juneau Youth Services Inc. did an amazingly selfless act for the community by committing to operate the club with its own resources for at least an additional 90 days while an effort was made to find other funding or solutions," he said. "JYS asked me to help them look for solutions. In short, finding $230,000 annual funding in 90 days was not realistic, especially given the current stress on the economy and charitable giving."

While the club is closing, each parent has been offered help in finding other afterschool care solutions by JYS and other organizations, Ritchie said.

"The bright side is that the closure of the Boys and Girls Club has spurred a great deal of interest in developing a local overall plan for before and after school activities for our youth," he said.

Ritchie said an overall plan will allow the municipality, Juneau School District and community organizations to partner to take greater advantage of existing opportunities and potential funding sources.

"Next to the time kids spend in school, there is no greater priority for developing well adjusted productive adults than ensuring that time spent before and after school is safe, stimulating and healthy," he said.

As far as his work as city manager, Ritchie said it was great fun and really rewarding.

"I learned a tremendous amount," he said, "and it's nice to have somebody else doing it."

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at 523-2272 or

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