South Florida and Volunteerism

South Florida – we’re known for our sunshine, beautiful beaches and vacation-like lifestyle all year round. Something we’re not known for? Our volunteerism. In fact, according to an article published last May by the Sun-Sentinel, South Florida is ranked “dead last” among 51 nationally ranked metropolitan areas including Las Vegas, New York, and Orlando. The reason? Other than living in the temptation of summer all year round, a transient community and long work commutes contribute to our lowly volunteer rates. At the end of the week, after commuting between the tri-county area, South Floridians just want to kick back at the beach – we live where you vacation, after all!
 
Many volunteer hours also go unreported or underreported. The article cites the community’s confusion between “formal” and “informal” volunteering as a contributing factor to underreported volunteer hours. Formal volunteering refers to volunteering for a specific organization, such as Habitat for Humanity or The Junior League. Conversely, informal volunteering refers to volunteering individually outside of an organizational context, like helping your neighbors or picking up trash in your neighborhood. While the distinction may seem obvious to some, many people who volunteer for schools and places of worship mistakenly cite their volunteer work as informal. In reality, the time volunteers put into their churches and schools does count as formal volunteering because they are indeed helping a specific organization.
 
Another reason is the prominent cultural divide between children of immigrants born in the states versus their native country. Known for our abundant international population, South Florida is a cultural hub. However, the divide between first-generation Floridians and second-generation Floridians when it comes to volunteering is great : many first-generation immigrants, who did not grow up with American culture, donate to their churches and local communities, whereas the younger generations, born into and raised with American culture, emphasize on putting in hours to the community. Both acts are immensely helpful to the community, but unfortunately donating money does not count toward volunteer hours.
 
So how can South Florida increase its volunteer rates? The answer is obvious – get out there and volunteer! With an abundance of resources available on the internet to look up volunteer activities that cater to any interest, it doesn’t take much to get involved. However, researching volunteer activities can be exhausting and time consuming: this is where Spirit of Giving steps in. Think of Spirit of Giving as your volunteer matchmaking service: we streamline the process of finding volunteer work by matching volunteers and their interests and skills with a similar organization that needs help. Spirit of Giving even offering volunteers training where they should need it. Therefore, instead of spending hours searching for volunteer opportunities, you can spend those hours actually volunteering and giving back to your community!
 
Contact Wendy Friswell, Executive Director, at wendy@spiritofgivingnetwork.com with your interests and skills, and you’ll be matched to a nonprofit organization. The hours you’ll put into improving your community not only make it a better place for your family to grow and prosper, but for future generations as well.