Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Volunteering: The Heart of America

I was recently sent a link to a blog post from the University of Southern California's School of Social work, which has created what they call an "infographic" detailing a lot of interesting facts about contemporary volunteers: where they live, why they volunteer, and more. Check it out on their website!

A couple of interesting highlights:
  • 64.5 million people over the age of 16 volunteer every year in the United States. (We have quite a few under that age who help at Mount Rainier, too!)
  • Their contributions work out to almost 50 hours per person, and even at minimum wage, they save agencies and non-profits more than $23 billion every year. (We know from our own experience that volunteers, in fact, often contribute far more than minimum wage-quality work, helping with park management plans, conducting science, leading mountain rescues, and designing trail bridges, for example. Independent Sector estimates the actual average value of volunteer time, based on replacement wages and benefits, at $22.55/hr, which brings volunteer contributions up to a whopping $72 billion.)
  • The Northwest has one of the top concentrations of volunteers in the country. Washington state ranks 9th with 34.4% of its citizens volunteering.
  • Top benefits of volunteering include an increased sense of physical well-being, self-esteem, decreased risk of depression, and a sense of purpose.

Gabriela Acosta, Community Manager for the USC program, says "we can only hope that viewers will see the infographic and be inspired to volunteer and give back to their communities."

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