Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
With the generosity of Idahoans in our communities, it comes as no surprise that Idaho ranks among the top states in its rate of volunteerism. The boundless charitable spirit of Idahoans is worthy of recognition and praise.
In a study released in December, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) ranked Idaho third among the states for volunteerism and civic engagement. According to the study, 36.5 percent of Idaho residents volunteer, contributing 58.2 million hours and $939 million worth of service. Additionally, more than 55 percent of Idaho residents donate to charities and other worthy causes. Tutoring and teaching, assisting with general labor, mentoring youth, collecting and distributing food and fundraising are noted in the study as among the top volunteer activities to which Idaho volunteers dedicate their time.
Idahoans are stepping forward to help meet the needs in our communities through a number of different avenues. For the past twelve years, I have been honored to recognize the contributions, patriotism and service of Idaho veterans and volunteers who assist veterans through presenting the Spirit of Freedom Award. The immeasurable service of these individuals who volunteer their time and resources can never be fully recognized by our communities. The CNCS and NCoC study also noted that, "more than 350 AmeriCorps members and 3,800 Senior Corps volunteers are meeting local needs, strengthening communities and increasing civic engagement through national service in Idaho." Further, while all age groups of Idahoans were widely represented, the highest percentage of Idaho volunteers were among those aged 65 to 74 years old, followed by volunteers aged 35 to 44 years old.
Additionally, the Peace Corps recently reported that Idaho moved up three spots to now be ranked seventh among states with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita. The Peace Corps noted that 1,302 Peace Corps volunteers from Idaho have served since the program's establishment. Seventy Idahoans served in the Peace Corps in 2013 alone. In making the announcement, Janet Allen, manager of the Peace Corps West Coast Region said, "We congratulate Idaho for a second year among the top ten per capita producers of Peace Corps volunteers. Idaho continues to prove fertile ground for the skills, experience, and global-mindedness Peace Corps values in its volunteers."
The rate of volunteerism in Idaho is above the national average. The CNCS and NCoC study indicated that one in three Idahoans volunteer, compared to one in four Americans who volunteer nationally. Other key national findings include that the volunteer rate of Generation Xers is trending upward, and Generation X has the highest volunteer rate nationally of any age group; volunteers age 65 and over spent the highest median of hours on volunteer activities in 2012; volunteering has trended upward among teenagers (ages 16-19); and working mothers continue to volunteer at a significantly higher rate than the population as a whole and people who do not live with children under 18.
It is clear that many Idahoans and Americans across this nation contribute significant time to easing the burdens of others. Through this work, they are spreading kindness in our communities and they are inspiring the good actions of others. I thank all of Idaho's volunteers, look forward to a future shaped by their considerate leadership and commend all of our volunteers for this achievement.
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