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From ‘me’ to ‘we;’ Volunteerism, a noble calling

May 7, 2014

“The broadest and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.” — Ivan Scheier (

Here in the Upper Delaware River Region one sure sign of spring is awards season, as many of our nonprofit organizations single out special individuals to honor—from the ranks of their own nonprofit members and volunteers to community leaders and others who step up to make a difference. We, too, want to get into the spirit of the season by saying “thank you” to the sung and unsung volunteers for the gift they give to help address the needs in our communities. In addition, we salute not only the many volunteers, but also the nonprofit organizations themselves for doing such valuable work to advance countless worthwhile causes in our region.

It may surprise you to learn that, nationwide, the non-profit sector is a small but important economic engine that provides 5.5% of the nation’s entire GDP. In 2010, nonprofits not only employed 13.7 million people (approximately 10% of the U.S. workforce), but in addition, 62.8 million unpaid volunteers donated 8.1 billion hours of service worth an estimated value of $173 billion. In the U.S. in 2013, the value of one hour of a volunteer’s time was estimated at $22.55. Of course, even as some statisticians are keeping track of these figures, if you know people who volunteer then you also know that the money is not the point and the work they do is priceless.

People volunteer for an endless variety of reasons and for an endless variety of causes. They comfort the sick, encourage young people, fight fires, support a food bank, help out at the local library or public radio station, contribute something to a charity fundraiser, and the list goes on…

Volunteers are people who make a choice to make a difference.

They help shape the communities we live in and the future of those communities.

The causes we volunteer for represent what we stand for, what we believe in.