Volunteers in the United States are 63 million strong and hold up the foundations of our society. They help their neighbors, serve their communities and provide their expertise. No matter what kind of volunteer work they do, they contribute in invaluable ways.
During the month of April 2019, 69 local community members offered 656 volunteer hours through the programs and services provided by Seton Center, Inc. According to Independent Sector’s research, the average value of a volunteer hour in Maryland is $28.65. Using that standard, widely-used estimate, the total monetary value of these volunteer hours equals $18,794.40! Granted, April was a somewhat uncommon month. These 656 hours include 32 volunteers from Mount St. Mary’s University who served 125 hours to visit neighbors’ homes and an assisted living facility to help with yard work and lift their spirits. But is wage replacement adequately capturing the total value and rewards of volunteer efforts?
The article at this link prods us to consider the caveats of only using wage replacement to measure of volunteer impact. The immeasurable resources for Seton Center include:
- the wonder of children in engaging art at a local library
- empathy found by those who donate their deceased loved one’s items to the Family Store
- encouragement for those who continue to win battles in providing for their families
- elation of a driver’s license
- college acceptance letter or diploma earned
- dignity for those in pain or despair
- empowerment found in a new job
- restoration of a smile and self-confidence
- learning of life skills and health care practices
- partnerships to acquire insurance or make steps toward that dream job
- a break from solitude to enjoy a holiday party
- relief from the burden of property care
It is a challenge to measure these successes throughout the lifetimes of those who visit us. But in our community, volunteers are part of changing lives and goals that were once only imagined are being achieved!