Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | APRIL 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Volunteer nation

In the last few years, our community has been ranked in many publications on many attributes. The ranking that does not get nearly enough attention or celebration is that for the last five years, Iowa City has been ranked in the top-five midsize cities for volunteer rate by the Volunteering in America Report. April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week and a perfect time to celebrate this amazing accomplishment. Every day volunteers are engaged in our schools, in our nonprofits, in our hospitals, in our civic organizations, and they respond to help people in need in times of disaster. Volunteers are the people who make our community great.

In the last year, the United Way Volunteer Center mobilized 7,771 volunteers for a total of 84,985 volunteer hours, equivalent to $1,88 million in service to the community.

Through workplace volunteer programs, corporate leaders such as P&G and the UI ’s Levitt Center spent part of their regular workdays at 28 different community sites throughout the county.

Whatever their “day jobs,” they swung hammers and paint brushes. They organized medical records and canned goods.

Large-scale community events, such as FRY Fest and granGABLE, Iowa City Book Festival, One Book Two Book, and Get Moving for Healthy Kids Walk, all depended on the 446 volunteers who came out to make sure the thousands of their neighbors who were participating were safe and enjoying themselves.

Then there were the members of the University of Iowa Student United Way who brightened an autumn afternoon of some older folks. Their task was raking, but the visiting was the real treat. And 266 UI student-athletes fanned out across 15 project sites to bring to the whole community the same teamwork and dedication they show on the field, court, or in the pool.

Last year, the Emergency Volunteer Center trained 108 volunteers to register, match, and coordinate the large influx of volunteers who respond to a disaster. That community mobilization stood us in good stead in May and June, when 46 center-trained volunteers were mobilized for seven days, worked 105 shifts and 421 hours, and registered 384 community volunteers. The United Way Disaster Call Center mobilized for 10 days, staffed by 38 volunteers.

These are only some of the great things that we have seen volunteers do in the last year. We know that there was much more done by volunteers throughout the community. This week, please take the opportunity to thank a volunteer and when you can, take your turn and volunteer.

Philanthropist Marjorie Moore said, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy …” As we say at United Way, “Give the gift of you. Give an hour. Give a Saturday. Give your best.”

You can join us in building a community of volunteers at http://www.unitedwayjwc.org/VolunteerCenter.

Sue Dvorsky
community strategies coordinator
United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties

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