The following article was written by Virginian-Pilot reporter Stacy Parker and published online at 4:21 p.m. on March 5, 2021.
Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, firstname.lastname@example.org
VIRGINIA BEACH — Do you have a strong sense of community, a ready smile, a love for helping others and the endurance to work outside? If so, you have what it takes to be a resort-area ambassador, and Block by Block, the company that will run the city’s newest program, is hiring. Last year, Virginia Beach had a similar ambassador program to assist with reopening the beach during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, cleaning and safety patrols will begin canvassing Atlantic Avenue on April 1, and their job will be focused on enhancing the business district. About 20 to 40 people are needed. Wages start at $13 an hour, and applications are available at www.workwithblockbyblock.com.
The City Council is using $1 million from its Tourism Investment Program fund, a tax-driven pot of money, to improve the Oceanfront’s resort area. Virginia Beach has a one-year contract with Block by Block for $994,849, according to the city.
“We have a huge initiative this year to get things cleaned up down there,” said BJ Baumann, chairperson of the Resort Advisory Commission.
The company will begin training new ambassadors March 24.
“You guys will like having your own small army to tackle the low-level things that are driving you crazy,” Block by Block President Blair McBride told the commissioners at their monthly meeting on Thursday.
McBride visited Virginia Beach last summer and observed areas that needed attention. Block by Block operates in 30 states and has been used in Norfolk’s downtown area for several years. In Virginia Beach, the ambassadors will wear uniforms: a yellow shirt with a blue wave logo.
New equipment — trucks and power washers — will be deployed on Atlantic Avenue soon to start a “cleaning blitz,” McBride said. Workers will remove graffiti and stickers on light poles, pressure wash sidewalks and pull weeds.
“We will see tremendous progress in the first couple of weeks,” McBride said.
Ambassadors will introduce themselves to business owners and provide contact information to report problems or concerns. Training will include Virginia Beach-specific tips for assisting visitors and how to engage with homeless people to connect them with services, McBride said. The staff will patrol from 1st to 40th streets, but the central resort area from 15th-25th streets will be cleaned several times a day, he said.