A federal study places Iowa in the number-two slot among all the states for volunteering. Stan Soloway, a committee chairman for the Corporation for National and Community Service, says Iowans are volunteering their time for a host of worthy projects much more frequently than the national average.
“Iowa ranks second in the country with almost 38% of Iowa’s citizens reporting that they actually volunteer or do service in their communities or across the state,” Soloway says. “It’s really a terrific news story for Iowa. Nationally, we’ve seen the largest increase in volunteerism since 2003 and this is the most comprehensive analysis there is on volunteering in America, so it’s pretty solid data.”
The top five states are: Utah, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Alaska. By nature, Soloway says, Americans are a giving, resilient people who are looking to support their communities. The report finds more than 63-million Americans gave of their time last year, an increase of one-point-six million people from 2008.
“We think volunteering and service is a critical part of the solution to a lot of the problems that face us, but this is a very exciting story, particularly given the economic downturn,” Soloway says. “Nationwide, we saw the increase despite the economic downturn and even an increase in volunteering amongst those who are unemployed themselves.”
The report found nearly 884-thousand Iowans volunteered last year, giving 93-million hours of service. He says the increases demonstrate how, despite economic challenges, Americans have made service a priority in their lives. “The more that we at the federal level or at the state and local level, through state commissions and various non-profit organizations, can provide access to opportunities, people are looking for ways in which to volunteer,” Soloway says. “It hasn’t always been that easy to find the right opportunity. Now, with social media and technology and a much greater focus on providing opportunity, people are taking advantage of it.”
As well as we’ve done, he says more people need to get engaged in volunteering in whatever area they may choose — including things like literacy, health, hunger, veterans, and the environment. The Corporation for National and Community Service is the federal agency responsible for fostering volunteering and service. For more information, visit: “www.volunteeringinamerica.gov“.