The U.S. Census shows a national decrease in volunteering from 2019 to 2021, according to Americorps’ Volunteering and Civic Life in America Research Summary. It went from around 30% in 2019 to a little more than 23% in 2021.
This is the biggest drop in census history. COVID-19, of course, playing a role.
Turning an eye to local nonprofits, Family Kitchen in Bend does not relate to the national trend.
“We’re seeing an increase in the number of volunteers on site mostly because out meal program has grown so much that we need to create new opportunities,” said Family Kitchen Executive Director Donna Burklo.
Burklo added that the organization has around 500 inquiries sitting in its volunteer inbox.
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John Striff has been volunteering most of his adult, working life. A few years ago, he found a seat at the table with Family Kitchen.
“It’s a lot of work, but you can actually see what you are doing for people,” said Striff. “You see the help that you are providing.”
He told us the work is worth it.
“It just makes me feel good,” Striff said. “I feel like I am contributing in a way I never did when I was working for a large corporation.”
While the kitchen may not be having volunteer needs at the moment, Shepherd’s House Ministries is.
Last year, Shepherd’s House had 28 volunteers, according to David Notari the director of development.
“This year, at this time, we have 150,” Notari said. “That’s really good news. The reality is, we are still really short.”
With its Redmond shelter opening this year, the nonprofit will need more help.
“That alone is going to require about 100 hundred volunteers. We’re about 150 shy of the 300 that we need right now,” said Notari.
Diane Miles, a volunteer with Shepherd’s House, told us her last six months of donating her time have been great.
“I leave feeling very happy because — it sounds really corny, but — giving is always more fun than receiving,” said Miles.
If you are interested in volunteering, plenty of local nonprofits welcome the support.
The Shepherd’s House location in Redmond will open this fall.