For the past month or so, the United States government - namely the U.S. Census Bureau - has blanketed media sources nationwide with print, television, radio and Internet advertisements urging all Americans to fill out their 2010 Census forms.
Here on Sanibel, local officials are requesting the same. In fact, the city will host more than a dozen opportunities for islanders to get involved with the census process as our government is seeking the assistance of paid workers - including enumerators, crew leaders, recruiting assistants and clerks - to help collect information vital to their ongoing mission.
So, why is collecting data important for us as citizens to complete?
First and foremost, census information affects the numbers of seats each state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives. People from many walks of life use census data to advocate for causes, rescue disaster victims, prevent diseases, research markets and more.
As a result, the information the census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services like schools, hospitals, senior centers, emergency services, bridges and other-public works projects.
In other words, if and when another Hurricane Charley pays a visit to Southwest Florida, it would be in our best interest to share with the government the number of people affected by the disaster and the financial need it will take to recover from such an event.
Think about the Sanibel Causeway, too. Although it may be only a few years old, when it comes time to make repairs to the infrastructure of the bridge, federal funding will be needed to pay for the project.
When it comes right down to it, the 10 minutes it may take for you to fill out a census form, or be interviewed by a enumerator (census taker), is well worth every second.
We urge all of our readers to fill out their census forms, or - perhaps even better - get involved with the process. The City of Sanibel will be hosting three upcoming testing sessions for folks interested in working with the U.S. Census Bureau: April 3 and 10 at the Sanibel Recreation Center (3880 Sanibel-Captiva Road) at 10:30 a.m. or April 6 at the Sanibel Public Library (770 Dunlop Road) at 1 p.m. The pay is competitive ($12 to $15 per hour), plus you'll be able to say that you've performed a value service to your community.
For additional information, contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 941-875-2014.
- Reporter editorial