Kathy Boisvert, who teaches preschoolers with special needs near her home in Massachusetts, had never been overseas before she signed up with World Teach, a nonprofit organization that matches volunteer teachers with overseas assignments.
Now Boisvert is spending her third summer at a tiny school in a small community an hour northeast of Cape Town, through World Teach. Volunteering at the school for children with disabilities gives her a way to travel and enriches her life when she gets back home."Going on a vacation is fun, but I'm not somebody who wants to sit; I won't lie on the beach," said Boisvert, of Uxbridge, Mass. "I like being busy."
Volunteer vacations are a way for travelers to see an area, especially in the developing world, and to get to know its people in a way that would be difficult, if not impossible, for tourists. They also give travelers a way to help with problems they might not see in closer to home. And for kids, they provide some perspective, said Mark Solon of Boise, who is volunteering in Cambodia and Ghana this summer with his wife Pam and their two kids, ages 10 and 11.
"American kids need a better dose of perspective about how fortunate they are," said Solon. "Our job as parents is to produce two kids that contribute to society. So we think this is just part of their education."
Boisvert, who has a doctorate, teaches an extra class at the University of Massachusetts during the school year to pay for her airfare and lodging.
"It's really an investment," said Boisvert. "It has changed my point of view. In this community in South Africa they're doing the best they can with the little they have, so here, I think I can do so much more. The resources are here; it's not catastrophic like it was there."
Volunteer abroad programs can charge thousands of dollars a week for the privilege of helping out, not including airfare. The money goes to administration, lodging, food, and often to the community organizations that are working with the volunteers.
Church functions are another outlet that see heavy sweat equity of volunteerism poured into the Black community. This pious insertion of assistance from white people into the advancement of colored people through philanthropy and volunteerism is infrequently returned, as Black people tend to volunteer time and effort into causes that directly benefit their communities (nonprofits are frequently run by white people, though they work to benefit Black people only).
White people love volunteering, giving up countless hours for the betterment of communities they have virtually no stake in and performing tasks that will be scarcely performed upon their departure.
Among the major race and ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate (28.3 percent) than did blacks (20.2 percent), Asians (19.0 per-cent), and Hispanics (14.7 percent). Of these groups, the volunteer rate of blacks and whites rose in 2009. Among blacks it rose by 1.1 percentage points,driven by an increase in the volunteer rate of black women.
Volunteer rates were higher among married persons (32.3 percent) than those whohad never married (20.6 percent) and those with other marital statuses (21.5 percent). Parents with children under age 18 were substantially more likely to volunteer than were persons without children under 18 years of age, 34.4 per-cent compared with 23.9 percent.
Top Five States for Volunteer Rate:· Utah· Iowa· Nebraska· AlaskaTop Five Large Cities for Volunteer Rate:Top Five Mid-Size Cities for Volunteer Rate:
IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.
But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects.
In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.
"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.
Volunteer rates in America’s largest cities range from a high of 40.5 percent in Minneapolis-St. Paul to a low of 14.4 percent in Las Vegas. After Minneapolis-St. Paul, the cities with the highest volunteer rates are Salt Lake City, Austin, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Tulsa, Okla. The cities with the lowest volunteer rate are Las Vegas; Miami; New York; Virginia Beach, Va.; and Riverside, Calif.
Volunteering in America: 2007 City Trends and Rankings is the first report by the Corporation for National and Community Service to take a detailed look at volunteering habits and trends at the city level. The report, based on data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, is available here.
A video on why you should volunteer.