Volunteering is Popular These Days- and Stockton is Part of the Trend

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, July 30, 2009


By: Steffi Broski and Ben Adler

Stockton has been hit hard with the recession. Now volunteers are stepping up to the plate.

Anna Morgan: “If we don’t do it, who will?”

Anna Morgan is one of the organizers of Saturday's event. It’s called Serve-Our-Stockton and involves 20 churches and dozens of projects. She says now is the time for churches, non-profits and businesses to fill any voids.

Anna Morgan: “Just because we don’t have the budget or the city workers or government workers beautifying our community or helping our community out, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything.”

Volunteering is popular these days. President Obama and Governor Schwarzenegger have both called for volunteerism. Mayors of cities like Stockton, Sacramento and San Diego have, too. Christie Holderegger is with the non-profit organization Volunteers of America. She says VOA's regional chapter has seen a more than 50 percent increase in volunteers over the past year. She thinks the call from elected officials is only part of the reason.
Christie Holderegger: “I think when people are first losing their jobs or they have to retire early and they are not quite sure what to do with their time and then someone mentions volunteering and then they think: well gee, that’s a great time to spend my time and give back to the community.”

Kasey Spence is with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies. She says the boost is useful, but those volunteers still need to be managed. She’s an author of a new study on volunteers and the economic downturn.
Kasey Spence:“So if organizations are looking to or are forced to cut back on staff and increase their reliance on volunteers I guess it’s sort of a cautionary note to say: okay, there is some benefit in that short-term but as we look at the research that really isn’t the best way to go.”

Spence says ultimately, organizations need to make sure to maintain or increase quality staff to manage this new army of volunteers.