Let’s face it: Everybody agrees that volunteer community service is a good thing, but not everyone commits to providing it.
The volunteer rate in the United States for 2015 was 24.9 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, down .4 percentage points from the previous year. All told, 62.6 million people volunteered for an organization at least once during the 12-month period.
We can do better, America.
Volunteering, you should know, not only gives you a sense of purpose and fulfilment, it actually reduces stress and depression by releasing dopamine in the brain. In other words, volunteering can improve your health.
It also reduces taxpayer costs. The Corporation for National & Community Service estimates that in 2015, the last year for which statistics are available, volunteers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area contributed volunteer service valued at $1.9 billion.
Because the Eden Prairie Community Foundation wants more residents giving back to EP, the organization is currently holding its third annual “EP Gives 10,000” campaign. This campaign challenges Eden Prairie residents to collectively pledge and contribute at least 10,000 hours of community service over a three-month period, from Feb. 1 through April 30.
Last year about 30 different organizations contributed 11,150 hours of volunteer service to Eden Prairie projects, causes, or organizations, breaking the 10,000-hour mark for the second year in a row.
The Foundation undertakes this campaign because it’s a way to call attention to the great community service work that already exists, and also to get more people giving back to Eden Prairie. Plus, volunteers also tend to be charitable, and so community service is often a steppingstone to greater philanthropy.
The three-month campaign culminates with The GIVE Gathering on April 27 at The Education Center, 8040 Mitchell Road. That first-time event, sponsored by the Foundation and by Eden Prairie Community Education, is a Volunteer Fair where residents can find information about local volunteer opportunities. It will also include training for club and nonprofit leaders who want to learn more about attracting, recruiting, and retaining new volunteers or club members.
More information about The GIVE Gathering is at www.edenpr.org/givegathering.
In the meantime, organizations performing volunteer service projects are asked to track their volunteer hours and report them to the Foundation so that progress toward the 10,000-hour mark can be measured. Volunteer hours can also be shared on the “EP Gives 10,000” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EPgives.
For more information about the “EP Gives 10,000” campaign or The GIVE Gathering on April 27, contact the Foundation’s executive director, Mark Weber, at (952) 949-8499 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s all be the embodiment of that great quote by Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”