By Paula White
The United States has a long and rich tradition of volunteerism. It undergirds many quintessentially American institutions such as Little League, the PTA, the Red Cross, and the Peace Corps. Churches, synagogues, mosques and other faith-based institutions involve millions of people in volunteer service to the community such as visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and helping the elderly with chores. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the non-profit sector and their work is interwoven into the fabric of our society.
Why do people volunteer? According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, there are many reasons, ranging from a desire to do good or be of service to the community, to making new friends, to building job skills that could lead to employment. Sometimes people volunteer to be involved in something more meaningful than their paid work. I myself have volunteered for all of those reasons and sometimes simply because it was a chance to be outside on a nice day. Research suggests that volunteering benefits both the recipient of the volunteer’s time and the volunteer. In fact, people who volunteer at least 1-2 hours per week experience better health. Whatever their motivation, nearly a quarter of the adult US population volunteers, an economic benefit of 1.64 billion dollars annually!
Most of the people who are reading this article have probably volunteered for The Watershed Project at least once. Maybe you are a parent who went on a field trip with your child. Perhaps you planted a tree in a park, helped paint a mural, or did some weeding or planting on the Richmond Greenway. Possibly you did some water quality monitoring in a local creek, or picked up trash from someplace in your watershed. It could be that you were an intern with The Watershed Project and you might have even served on the Board of Directors. We at The Watershed Project are very grateful for the contributions of all the volunteers who have shared their time and talents with us. You are making your community and watershed more resilient and laying the foundation for a healthier tomorrow.
We invite you to stay involved with our work by checking our events page, and we hope that you will join us at Albany Bulb or Shimada Friendship Park on September 15 for International Coastal Cleanup Day, the largest volunteer event on the planet.