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Thank You For Being a Friend? Miami Has the Least Volunteers

Though the quintessential Miamian, the late Sophia Petrillo, might disapprove —the Southern city has just been found at the bottom of the friendly heap. Miami comes in dead last in a study of volunteerism in 50 major US cities. Possible causes for the falloff could include traffic, an exploding number of new immigrants, or the better offer of time on the beach.

Miami might be last, but nationally the US isn't doing so well either; the volunteerism rate fell last year for the second year in a row to about 26 percent. Miami's volunteer rate is 14.5 percent. Who's best at giving back? Minneapolis-St. Paul, at a solid 39 percent. Stellar states include Utah, Nebraska, and Alaska with New York, Florida, and Nevada on the bottom tier.

The chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service says, "with more people in need — losing houses, losing jobs — there are more people to serve. You have fewer people helping and more people needing help."

Both Obama and McCain have stressed the need for public service in this campaign — is volunteerism just the balm we need to soothe these challenging times? What kind of catalyst will it take to spark an upward trend in service? Do you give back?

Join The Conversation
kia kia 8 years
Oh, I no longer live in Miami these days. I volunteer weekly with a program exposing girls to outdoor activities as a way of increasing their confidence in other avenues in their lives. I have always been a volunteering type and even did a year of domestic service with AmeriCorps at one point.
kia kia 8 years
When I first moved to Miami I was shocked by how little people worked with others in their communities. I was there for a few hurricanes and immediately started working for the Red Cross after I realized that the elderly were being left in their homes with no air conditioning and few supplies in the aftermath of events. After living in the city for a few years I came up with my own possible idea about why volunteerism is so low. In Miami proper there are many people still reeling from the affects of the Castro regime as they or their families have had to flee Cuba. Cuba is supposedly a communist nation but is really a dictatorship. There seems to be resentment when you are forced to do things such as live under the guise of communism. I found that Cuban-Americans thrust themselves into the exploits of capitalism and anything else as far away from communism as a way of distancing themselves from anything Castro may represent. Unfortunately that includes communal ideas like free community work as well. Just a hypothesis.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
Ugh, tequila makes me :sick: And our high school had the Key Club that was like one giant volunteer group. My parents volunteered all the time so it was just something that was part of my life. So I am passing it on to my daughter. Also, I think one cause for the drop off in volunteering is that everyone expects the government to do everything. Take care of everyone's troubles. And people like to sit around and talk about everything that is wrong with the world, but don't do anything to help.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
No. I was more of a Tequila/Gin/Brandy fan. ;)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Did you valunteer to drink all the beer at Alpha Phi UnDave...just kidding.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
There were no volunteering opportunities through the high school I attended. Fortunately, I did a lot through the Boy Scouts, and then Alpha Phi Omega in college.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
You're welcome. I used to volunteer a couple of years ago by reading at my local library for story time. It was a hoot and being around kids aloud me to be free to be animated which apparently is a weird thing when you’re around boring adults, Haha!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Hypno, thanks so much for that link - I have been looking for such a program, I am going to check it out! I do volunteer at my son's school and for a few organizations to foster reading and education in at-risk youth. My husband works for a group of non-profit community medical centers and I provide volunteer technical website and database development work for them. Everyone who says that volunteering starts early is totally right! One great thing my son's school does is to provide the preschool classes with volunteer opportunities. For the younger kids, this is mostly just "volunteering" to help in the infant room, providing interaction and stimulation for the infants, but in his classroom (4-5 year olds), they participated in a project to make toys for the Toys for Tots program over the holidays. There was a woodworking shop that donated the pieces for toy trucks and cars and the kids basically assembled them and donated them to the Toys for Tots. These kids were so proud of themselves and so happy that they had contributed.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I can understand how setting aside time every week for a busy professional is not for some people which is why you should check out http://www.volunteeradventures.com A really great way to get away from the grind of work but also have fun valunteering on a vacation.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Brendel, I think it's great that you volunteer at your son's school. I feel like with pretty much everyone I know being busy, it's great to combine family time with volunteer time. I think volunteering can be a fun social activity, too. I mean, obviously it has other rewards, but if you are going to go out to dinner with your friends, why not volunteer at a food bank instead? You still get to hang out with your friends, but yo get to help people, too. It's a win-win.
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 8 years
I volunteer at my son's school and a few years back did some hospice work. It is harder to volunteer my time and easier to give money or donations of clothing and furniture, but it is much more rewarding to volunteer time and get involved.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
That's not to say that churches don't sponsor their own volunteer work, just that even if you are not religious you can use a church as a way to find out about the volunteer opportunities that are available.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
I agree, pop. I feel like a lot of people don't seek out volunteer opportunities, but when the opportunities are right there, they are more than willing to help out. Of course, organizations needing volunteers presumably don't have a lot of money and therefore don't have a lot of resources to advertise that they need volunteers. I think churches are a great place to check for volunteer opportunities. I know the parish my family belonged to growing up always had a wide range of opportunities and the vast majority of them weren't religious in the least. Even if you are not a member of a church, I don't think it does any harm to have a friend grab you a bulletin when you go. I know a lot of organizations advertise that they need volunteers in church bulletins; the church often doesn't even have anything to do with the actual work; they just act as a middle man of sorts.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Volunteering was HUGE at my high school, and not for the right reasons. Kids who were dying to get into the best of the best colleges basically overran all the volunteer meetings in order to get sufficient volunteer credits on their transcripts. They would make fun of the people they were helping and talk about how many more hours they needed until they could stop. So obnoxious, but anyway, I digress. I think volunteerism is important. I think exposing kids to it is a great way to create an awareness that there are people in need and that normal people can help them. I'm not sure how to "get the numbers up". I think that in times of need, people do step up the plate. Perhaps cities or agencies aren't getting the message out there. I think people in general are always willing to help when there is a concrete way for them to do so.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I haven't volunteered for a while now, but I'd be very happy to have the extra free time to be able to do so. My high school required a certain (significant) amount of volunteering hours in order to graduate. I always did mine during the summer, usually at my hometown's library. Volunteering really is one of the most rewarding things one can do.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
I agree, Hypno. My high school offered a plethora of volunteer opportunities and most people took part. They even offered a volunteer program where you could take off school early to volunteer. Some students were able to get credits for volunteering. (Of course, some people said this wasn't technically volunteering because you got school credit for it, but believe me, the volunteer work was much more rigorous than say, taking a keyboarding class.)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Every time I'm in Miami I volunteer to rub sun block on a nice big strong back. TeeHee! IMO volunteerism should be a staple of every young American after graduating High School. It not only makes one a more grounded compassionate citizen but it is also a college admissions and professional resume asset that could put one over the edge.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Is it not surprising given the people who live in Miami? I always got the impression that only young rich people went there, or the young and want-to-be rich. Neither group knows how to give back.
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
Yes, I volunteer throughout the year and I have mini projects I work on with the organization I volunteer through.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Most of the younger generation has no idea what it means to "give back" to the community, I used to volunteer at the YMCA, but todays youth are too busy being selfish.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
I agree with kelly; the roots of volunteerism begin at a young age. For most of the people who I know, whether or not they volunteer regularly ties to whether or not they volunteered as children/teens.
aistea311 aistea311 8 years
I have to admit, this year I only volunteered for one day. And whats worse, is I had to take a personal day from work just to make sure I was able to pay my bills after :(. I wish I could do more.
em1282 em1282 8 years
I used to volunteer at a hospital and now I volunteer for an AIDS organization. It's definitely a combination of things that affects volunteer rates, from the lack of free time people have to the fact that a lot of people just never get motivated to volunteer...and the economy doesn't help, either.
just_kelly just_kelly 8 years
I volunteer (Special Olympics coach) and have continually found some way to provide service to the community since I was in HS. I really think the roots of volunteerism are sowed at a young age and that schools and parents should do more to promote volunteerism. I also think the cruddy economy lowers volunteerism rates. People are so concerned with their personal economic status right now, it's hard to divert attention and energy.
colleenb colleenb 8 years
I used to give back, but the people were so needy! Also, I just read Obama as Omaha.
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