Volunteering: A Priority in American Life

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Everyone has the power to make a difference in his or her community through volunteering. Championing this cause, Miss International, Jesse Ladoue, has joined forces with VolunteerMatch, a U.S. not-for-profit web service that connects good people with good causes. Through this partnership Ladoue and VolunteerMatch are encouraging Americans to make a difference in 2014 by giving their time to be a volunteer. This latest announcement is part of VolunteerMatch’s ongoing “Let Your Inner Beauty Shine” campaign, highlighting how service to others embodies true beauty.

Volunteering is very much a part of American life. A new study published by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNC) and the National Conference on Citizenship shows that millions of citizens make volunteering a priority in their lives. People gave 7.9 billion volunteer hours in 2012; that’s one in four Americans who volunteered, an estimated value of $175 billion to the economy. 

Volunteering goes beyond helping other people, as studies show that the volunteers themselves benefit, whether through increased job prospects, better health, or even better overall well-being. Proving this, “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” a study released by CNCS in the summer of 2013, found that unemployed people who volunteer over the next year have 27 per cent higher odds of being employed at the end of the year than non-volunteers. While among rural volunteers and those without a high school diploma, the likelihood increases to 55 and 51 percent, respectively!

VolunteerMatch has thousands of current volunteer opportunities online and offers tools and services that power more than 160 corporate volunteer programs across the U.S. Plus as part of the New Year’s resolution campaign, VolunteerMatch and Jesse Ladoue have come up with some easy steps to help people make the right volunteering choices for themselves: how much time they have available, example; the kind of environment they will be working in as a volunteer; and if there is a specific cause that they are passionate about.

Jesse Ladoue was crowned Miss International in July 2013. From a young age she recognised the importance of volunteering. She says, “Volunteerism is not about giving all you have, it’s about giving what you can. When we add up the small acts of kindness of many, we see that goodness can amount to something big.” Volunteers are critical partners and participants in societies globally, whether actively giving their time through a formal or ad hoc organisation, or taking part in what is sometimes called "informal volunteering" where citizens voluntarily participate in community activities or providing personal care for family, friends, neighbours, or even strangers as part of accepted cultural norms of giving and reciprocity.

Photo Credit: VolunteerMatch