“Volunteering is a calling” by Kelly Bryant
Merriam Webster defines the word ‘volunteer’, as a person who does work without getting paid to do it. Although the definition put forth by dictionary.com says virtually the same thing, I prefer their verbiage – a volunteer is a person who performs a service willingly and without pay. Why would anyone is his/her right mind be willing to do this? Volunteering is a great way to fills one’s time in retirement, and it’s also an easy way to meet others in your community – whether it be at school, at church or just in the local neighborhood. Some people volunteer in order to develop new skills and others do it because of the proven health benefits it provides. While giving their time benefits volunteers in many ways, it is not why they do it. I believe it is a calling – a calling to help others who are not as fortunate as they are; or to participate in the education and enrichment of their children; or to raise money for an organization for which they are passionate; or to aid people who have survived disaster. The list goes on and on. Yes, volunteers seem to be fueled by compassion and a deep desire to make the world a better place.
Americans volunteer in huge numbers. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63 million Americans gave 8 billion hours of volunteer service in 2016. Using the national estimated per-hour value assigned to these hours by Independent Sector*, the total monetary value of that service is a staggering 193 million dollars.
Taking that down to a local level, our Tri-Lakes Cares volunteers worked a total of 15,894 hours in 2016, which averages out to just under 75 hours per volunteer. The 2016 per-hour volunteer value in the State of Colorado is $25.97. A quick calculation shows us that just one volunteer working an average number of hours annually, saves Tri-Lakes Cares nearly $2,000 each year. As a result we are able to make those funds available to clients by way of added services. The $2,000 saved might enable us to provide school supplies for 160 kids. Or, we may use it to cover the cost of our entire Snack Pack program for ten weeks. Again, this is the impact of just one volunteer.
National Volunteer Appreciation Week is Sunday, April 23 through Saturday, April 29. It’s a time to thank volunteers everywhere for a job well-done. A simple thank you hardly seems adequate, but it’s all we’ve got.
To our TLC volunteers: You come and faithfully serve our clients week after week, month after month, year after year. We are inspired by your grace and professionalism. We are awed by your generosity and commitment. We are amazed by your talent. You are stellar, and we are honored to know you. From the bottom of our hearts……THANK YOU!!!
*A national membership organization that brings together a diverse set of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to advance the common good.