Friday, April 5, 2013

Community Service

More people volunteer in Utah than in any other state. More than 40 percent of Utah residents reported donating time to support a cause last year—that amounts to 837,650 volunteers. Utah averages more than 70 volunteer hours per resident. Nearly 150 million of service hours were donated last year in the state.

Salt Lake City residents are similarly generous with their time—more than one in three city residents are active volunteers. The city accounts from well over a quarter of a million volunteers each year. And that’s pretty typical for the state. In fact, unlike typical metropolitian areas, Utah’s urban rate of volunteering is nearly identical to the state’s suburban volunteer rate. Utah’s urban areas report a 43 percent volunteer rate. While that figure does represent a drop from the state’s all-time high volunteering mark—a full 50 percent the year after the 2002 Winter Games—it is much higher than the average urban rate of 23 percent.

The 2002 Winter Games made Utah’s volunteering spirit famous, but Salt Lake City and the State of Utah have long traditions of people helping other people. (Resisting the temptation to make a Donner party reference here). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a longstanding commitment to donating time, more, and supplies to those who need them. The church’s Humanitarian Center is located in Salt Lake City. The facility prepares humanitarian supplies for worldwide distribution and, at the same time, trains people—providing them with skills needed to find jobs. In an average year, the church’s Humanitarian Center will send 8 million pounds of shoes and clothing, 500,000 hygiene and school kits, and 20,000 quilts to people from more than 50 countries.

This contributes to the state’s high frequency of religious volunteers—about half of all Utah’s volunteers donate time to religious causes. Educational, health, and social services are kind of service next most frequently provided. Salt Lake City’s people also provide service to the arts and cultural organizations. Some of the most popular volunteer activities in the state include: tutoring or mentoring, food and clothing distribution, and offering management expertise. There are many opportunities to volunteer in Salt Lake City. Those who do give of their time are in good company—Salt Lake City residents across all age groups volunteer their time in percentages greater than the national average.