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Article Archive >> Community

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives! It Has A Long History In America!

Building Homes! Rebuilding Lives!
It Has A Long History In America!
by William L. Bulla

Volunteerism has a long history in America! Volunteerism is the willingness of people to work on behalf of others without the expectation of pay or other tangible gain. Some go so far as to dedicate much of their lives to voluntary service. Volunteers have a tremendous impact on aiding those in need!
A 2008 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor indicated that the median average for volunteer activities for both sexes was 52-hours annually. This figure has been the same since 2005.
A study by Bohse and Associates, a consulting firm for non-profits, indicates 86% of people giving reasons for volunteering said "feeling compassion for people in need." A million more Americans took time out of their schedules to volunteer in 2008, than they did the year before, even though the economy was in a downturn, a study found. A report by the government-run Corporation for National and Community Service showed that 61.8 million Americans volunteered in 2008, the largest number since 2005.
Americans spent around 8.1 billion hours of service last year.
Some population groups are more likely to volunteer than others.
Parents, for example, are more likely to volunteer with school or youth related activities. Older people, many of whom are in the early years of retirement, are more likely to volunteer than young adults. High school students are increasingly participating in volunteer activities in order to fulfill community service requirements required by their school system. College students receive information on volunteer opportunities from service groups on campus and from community groups that target the campus as a source of volunteers. In addition, many universities actively promote volunteering among students.
Locally, volunteers for Habitat of Washington County are the main source of labor to build affordable homes for those in need in our community.
In today's economy, the housing needs of the low-income are profound and pervasive. Safe, affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Of the array of housing needs in our county, none deserves more attention than those involving children. Think about the children who are living in those families, where they are living, and what kind of a future they have.
What happens so often is that many low-income families are spending too much of their income to find a decent place to live. They have little or no health insurance. Often they incur unmanageable medical expenses and cannot pay for the necessities. After a couple of months they can't make ends meet so they move. The children change schools, neighborhoods and they never get time to make friends, find mentors, or feel secure. From this action other problems develop within the family and with the children. And the cycle goes on and on!
In a study conducted by Habitat for Humanity International, 38-percent of Habitat homeowners reported a positive impact on the physical health of their children; 67-percent reported less conflict in family relationships; and 63-percent indicated a positive change in their children's school performance.
At Habitat, we believe we have a responsibility to see that the childhoods of our next generation are not scarred by substandard housing and homelessness. That's the reason more than 300-people volunteer every year to help build safe, affordable homes for those in need in Washington County. Habitat families put in 500-hours of "sweat equity" helping to build their house and other Habitat houses. We work, shoulder-to shoulder, with those families and share in that sense of pride they develop as they help build their new home.
Have you ever considered volunteering for Habitat? You, too, can experience this great feeling if you join our Habitat volunteer family.
A few hours a month can make a big difference in someone's life! Please consider it and call the Habitat office at 301-791-9009.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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