In spite of the endless barrage of negative headline news about the economy, jobs, and education, a bit of good news was shared today through the 2013 Volunteering and Civic Life in America, a new Federal report issued by the Corporation for National & Community Service. This report shows Americans in a more favorable light, one that shines brightly due to our citizens’ unfailing commitment and generosity of spirit in the area of volunteerism.
This study found that, in 2012, 26.5 percent of Americans (one in four adults) volunteered through an organization. This statistic underscores the importance that volunteering holds for most people. With 64.5 million Americans volunteering nearly 7.9 billion hours last year, the impact must be felt in numerous communities across the US.
The report also pointed out that volunteering serves as a key component of civic life, along with charitable giving, community involvement, voting and other activities. Today, in areas where people live in a depressed economy, the needs intensify. To ease the suffering of neighbors in need, people volunteer at food banks, and shelters. To help lessen the achievement gap between low and middle income students, individuals volunteer at local elementary and middle schools.
Individuals also benefit personally from their volunteer experience. The report indicated that unemployed persons who volunteered with community organizations were able to gain new skills, experience and make contacts helpful in finding employment. They are therefore able to go back into the workforce with even more valuable contributions.
As momentum increases around national service and its key role in addressing critical local issues, take a look and see how you can become more involved in solving local community needs. This year marks the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps, celebrating more than 800,000 members who have served our country since the program began by tutoring and mentoring youth, supporting veterans and military families, expanding economic opportunity, and rebuilding communities after natural disasters. To learn how more Americans can join the movement in making a difference, go to www.Serve.gov.
After all, this country was built by ordinary citizens who wanted to pursue better lives for themselves and that same desire for a good life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness persists today, especially through volunteers.
To read the report in its entirety, click here. For those interested in finding local volunteer opportunities, go to www.serve.gov. Also check out the "Volunteer" tab at the top of this website for opportunities!
Lynne B. Ford, CVA
Director of Volunteer South Carolina