News / USA

Despite Hard Times, Volunteering Spikes in US

Volunteer rate jumps among all race and ethnic groups

Americorps volunteers mobilize in Joplin, Missouri, after a devastating tornado earlier this year.
Americorps volunteers mobilize in Joplin, Missouri, after a devastating tornado earlier this year.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

The number of Americans volunteering in their communities jumped by 1.6 million last year, the largest increase in six years, according to a recent government report.

According to “Volunteering in America,” 63.4 million Americans gave 8.1 billion hours through  formal organizations in 2010. The volunteer rate went up among all race and ethnic groups.

“We have found out that volunteering is core to who we are as Americans,” says Heather Peeler, spokeswoman for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency which conducted the study. “What we've found is that volunteers are working with youth through mentoring and tutoring. More than a quarter of volunteers are helping non-profit organizations raise needed funds. And one out of five volunteers are giving what we call ‘sweat hours,’ the general labor that’s needed to help non-profit organizations run.”

More essential than ever

The United States has a long tradition of volunteering, as opposed to many European countries where government is pervasive and provides most of basic services, like free daycare for children and comprehensive medical care. In addition, recent cuts in the budgets of many U.S. states have made volunteering even more essential.

According to Peeler, American volunteers provided services valued at nearly $173 billion last year. Utah ranked number one among the U.S. states. Among cities, Minneapolis-St. Paul, in Minnesota, led the way.

“The people in our communities in the greater twin cities say we’re not just going to complain about a problem, we’re going to do something to help solve it,” says Kathy Saltzman, executive director of the Minnesota Education Corps.

More than 900 of the organization's members donate a year, without pay, to help improve children's literacy.

“If children cannot read by 3rd grade, they have such an overwhelming obstacle to overcome in order to be successful because first you learn to read," says Saltzman. "After 3rd grade, you read to learn.”

Finding the time

Minnesota Education Corps also recruits volunteers like Mike Ginal, 51, who dedicates an hour a day, five days a week, to tutoring children.

“We get to the school and the kids come into a classroom where it is one-on-one interaction," says Ginal. "There is a set story for the child to read. We’re doing any corrections and basically tracking the student’s progress in comprehending the stories. We ask specific questions regarding the story. Also, we are checking them for how many words per minute they have benchmarking throughout the school year.”

Ginal and his wife have time to volunteer because their kids are grown.

“We’re not chasing our kids in their activities now and we definitely have more time to devote to the community," he says. "We’re involved in feeding the seniors here in town. This weekend we’re picking apples for the food banks from a donating apple orchard.”

Gen X gets involved

While Ginal belongs to the older generation of Americans known for their volunteering,  the Volunteering America report finds people born between 1965 and 1981, known as Generation X, volunteered more time in 2010 than ever before, contributing 2.3 billion hours.

And young adults, partly due to social networking, are becoming more active as well.   

Quinn Gardner, 25, is a volunteer coordinator at AmeriCorps, the national service organization. Her focus is disaster relief.  Her volunteers are currently helping residents of Joplin, Missouri recover from a devastating tornado earlier this year.

“Some of my teams have been down here since day one," she says. "So in events of disaster, we specialize in volunteer management, donation management as well as direct services, helping owners gain access to their home, removing trees, roofs, creating space environments.”

According to Gardner, young people volunteer for many reasons.

“I think a lot of these people come out for the experience, to help someone else, give back and find themselves in the process."

CNCS spokeswoman Peeler hopes the study provides officials and non-profit groups with the information they need to mobilize more Americans to help meet pressing needs.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid