Meet Volunteer Saru Salvi
Learn about volunteering with the town during National Volunteer Month
Orange County resident Saru Salvi says now that she’s retired, she’s never been busier. Part of what keeps her busy is volunteering for two Hillsborough appointed boards.
Salvi, who moved to the Hillsborough area in 2004, lives in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction — an area beyond town limits where the town has zoning authority. She has served on the Water and Sewer Advisory Committee since January 2016, now serving as vice chair, and became a member of the Planning Board last year.
In addition, Salvi serves on the Orange County Department on Aging Board, is a Guardian ad Litem volunteer and is temporarily serving as acting secretary of the North Orange County NAACP. Retired for a few years now from the pharmaceutical industry, Salvi also has enrolled in the North Carolina Extension Master Gardener Program and is taking pottery and acrylic painting classes at the senior center in Hillsborough.
We recently caught up with her in honor of National Volunteer Month. Check our Q&A with her.
What made you get involved in this volunteer work?
To be honest, I was hoping to be able to influence the water rates for homeowners in the ETJ. Even so, I enjoy the people. I joined the Planning Board because I don’t want to complain about the growth in Hillsborough but try to do something about it.
Was there any specific experience you had that made you think you could be an asset to a particular board?
My husband and I have owned small businesses for maybe 30 years, working side by side. I hold a bachelor of science in business, a master of business administration and a master of science in regulatory affairs. I was hoping that like in Monopoly, I could sell my master degrees for a PhD!
What has the time commitment been typically in a month?
The Water and Sewer Advisory Committee has changed from monthly to every other month, so the amount of time decreased to about three hours every other month. The Planning Board does require more work. Between meetings and reviewing suggested changes or ordinances, future plans, zoning changes, it requires about three to four hours a month.
What do you find rewarding about the work?
Do you feel like you have made a difference to the community through this work and how?
Although I may not change the water rates or the bursting growth, I think my opinions have been considered and, in small ways, have helped by educating the boards. For example, the Planning Board needs to understand the water and sewer system to understand where no building can be accommodated.
What do you like best about volunteering for the town?
Again, the people, but also representing those who live in the ETJ, who are not able to vote for town commissioners.
Do you have anything else you would like to say?
I hear a lot of complaints about utility rate and how fast Hillsborough has grown. You can’t just sit back and complain. If you’re serious, get involved. There are ways besides volunteering for a committee. Meetings are open to the public, and you can sign up to be heard.
Subscribe to town news and meeting notices or check out the calendar on the bottom of the town’s home page to participate in meetings or provide input.
The town periodically has openings on its eight appointed boards. Currently:
- The Board of Adjustment is recruiting for a resident of the extraterritorial jurisdiction to serve as an alternate member.
- The Parks and Recreation Board has an in-town member vacancy.
- The Planning Board has two extraterritorial jurisdiction member vacancies.
Check out the various boards and fill out a volunteer application on the town’s website. Applications will stay on file for review when a board has a vacancy.
Additionally, the town is looking for a steward to provide maintenance of Gold Park’s bee hotel and has other volunteer opportunities like litter removal, invasive species removal, and Gold Park pollinator garden workdays. See the Volunteer Opportunities page for how to get involved.