Americans are volunteering less

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WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There’s no monetary compensation, but volunteers whose passion is service will argue they do get much in return. But a new report shows volunteers are a shrinking population.

“I still wake up every morning and can’t wait to get here,” said Noble Hospital volunteer Jack Wolfe.

Jack Wolfe was rushed to Noble Hospital as a patient a decade ago. And in a sense, he never left. He received such good care, he decided to volunteer there when he got better. He’s been putting in around 60 hours a week ever since… but volunteers like Jack are becoming few and far between.

According to the Bureau of Labor as of September last year just one in four Americans had volunteered at least once with an organization over a years time. That’s the lowest rate of volunteering in more than a decade.

“Not surprised but I feel that it’s sad. We do need volunteers and I find most of our volunteers are elderly and they are the best volunteers we’ve had,” said Laura Smigel.

“A generation that had different sets of values and principles. Not that I’m saying what we have today is wrong. It’s different,” Wolfe added.

From information desks and the gift shop, to the mailroom, cafeteria, and patient floors, hospital volunteers… like in many industries… do essential work that keeps organizations on tight budgets running smoothly. Volunteers save Noble Hospital millions of dollars every year… but for people like Jack, his rewards are greater than any paycheck.
“In an emergency situation when we are called in, people you’ve never met in your life.. In 30 minutes you can be closer to them than anybody’s ever been in their lifetime,” Wolfe said.

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