The power of volunteerism in the Bluff City

This week, Volunteer Memphis salutes community change agents across the Mid-South by celebrating National Volunteer Week, a time dedicated to demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.

National Volunteer Week, April 12-18, 2015, is about taking action and encouraging individuals across Memphis and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.

“Memphis volunteers are some of the most dedicated and committed individuals I know,” said Leadership Memphis Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Andrew Bartolotta. “They give countless hours annually being community problem solvers – partaking in a myriad of tasks to help ensure that our community is healthy, vibrant and strong. Their work has led to extraordinary community success including assuring high school students are prepared for post-secondary opportunities by mentoring through tnAchieves, helping to diminish local food deserts through community gardens and farmers markets, as well as a deeper understanding of the issues that impact our community and the nation. ”

Each year, over 316,000 Memphians volunteer in their community, additionally giving back 25.6 volunteer hours per resident, according to The Corporation for National & Community Service’s Volunteering and Civic Life in America resulting in a $180 million dollar economic impact to the greater Memphis area according to the Economic Impact of Volunteers Calculator from the HandsOn Network; a Volunteer Memphis National Affiliate.

“We all have our own unique skills that we can offer to help the city, and through volunteering our time to make little changes, we can collectively make a big change,” said Taylor Oaks, a Memphian whose philanthropic efforts include volunteering as a big brother with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Mid-South, the Special Needs Ministry at Hope Church, and involved with the Memphis Special Olympics.

Honored consistently as one of the nation’s most giving cities, Memphians find value in volunteerism as part of their weekly routine and an innovative way for networking and career pathways. The Corporation for National and Community Service reports, volunteering increases a person’s job placement by 27%.

Volunteers are the life blood of many area nonprofits. “On average, the Memphis Farmers Market has 40 volunteers each market day, and the market could not run without their dedication to setup, cleanup, serve coffee, sell t-shirts and assist our vendors,” said Allison Cook, Executive Director of the Memphis Farmers Market. “They truly make the market run!”

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.

With the sixth anniversary of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, the creation of the Volunteer Generation Fund and President Obama’s resonant call to serve this year will be even more inspiring.

Volunteer Memphis is the city’s volunteer engagement center and local HandsOn and Points Of Light National Affiliate. Find local volunteer opportunities on our website at www.volunteermemphis.org

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