A couple of recent events got me thinking about the impact of volunteers in our community. Looking at the activities and organizations I myself am involved in, I saw more and more volunteers making a difference. It made me dig a little deeper.
Nationally, about 25% of the population performs some type of volunteer activity. That’s about 62.8 million people and an estimated $173 billion worth of service contributed. Chances are, some part of your life has or is being influenced by volunteers.
Volunteers are all around us. They are your family, friends and neighbors. They work in political, religious and community organizations as well as private, public and government organizations, non-profit and for-profit corporations, as well as by themselves.
The work they do ranging from teaching, coaching, driving, organizing, cooking, cleaning, building and writing code. Some provide expertise in their field to private companies or to individuals in need. They run private intuitions and clubs. They fight fires, protect our citizens and provide medical aid to those in need. They work tirelessly along side those who are paid for the same services. Many of these volunteers pay for their own training, certifications, equipment and uniforms as well as providing their own time and service. They come together for single events such as natural disasters or cleaning trash from beaches to the long term programs to care for those in need or fighting for constitutional / civil rights.
Their backgrounds are as varied as the jobs they do and represent every facet of life in our nation. Some volunteer to give back to the community, others as a means to learn a new trade. They give to provide services that would not be available otherwise, to share their knowledge and experience with others and to spend times with the ones they love. They do it to help others as well as help themselves.
In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville published his observations of Democracy in America recognizing the distinctiveness of our voluntary tradition. Since then, we have been known as a nation of joiners. And what a huge impact these volunteers make.
National Volunteer Week was in April this year, but I’m taking today to thank those who have raised their hand and volunteered.