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Sunday, August 15, 2010

One Missing Gift

The spirit of volunteerism seems to be failing across the country.  There are just fewer and fewer people who are willing to step up and lend a hand or take on a leadership role within an organization that relies on volunteers.  Those of us who do step up are often so inundated with requests that we can easily become over-committed, overwhelmed, and burnt-out. Why is this?  Why are so few people volunteering now?  I believe the problem stems from multiple reasons.  Primarily, our children are over-involved in multiple activities and there are fewer parents who choose to stay home.
When children have too many activities on their plates, parents spend much of their free time shuttling their kids from one place to another.  This cuts down on the time that the adults are able to pledge to each organization.  Therefore, the organizations find themselves short on volunteers.  Additionally, when parents work outside the home, they don't necessarily have the time or ambition to spend additional time dedicated to a volunteer organization.

Furthermore, teenagers who play multiple sports and/or work no longer have time to commit to a volunteer position, as they may have done in the past.  How many of us held volunteer positions as young adults?  Whether we spent time with residents in a nursing home, cleaned up trash along a road, or volunteered as candy stripers at the hospital, volunteerism was once encouraged amongst youth.  

I have to wonder if this is still the case.  How do today's teens have time to volunteer when their lives are filled with work, school, sports, dance, drama, music, etc, etc, etc?  It is no wonder that organizations are scrambling to fill volunteer positions when everyone is consistently busy with multiple commitments.  At some point, we need to teach our children to prioritize while developing selfless hearts.  The best way to do this could just be to teach by example.    


  1. Great post! I don't see the lack of volunteerism quite as much as you do, but I think that's because of where I live. Growing up in Alaska, most people learn from an early age to help out others. You can't just pass by somebody who's slid off the road, you have to stop and pull them out. That tends to translate into helpful spirits all the way around!

  2. I think people around here still try to be good samaritans, should a sticky situation arise, but getting an overall long-term (or even a short-term, one-day) commitment is like pulling teeth. From what I have experienced, would-be volunteers are too busy, just saying no, or backing out far too often now.


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