Volunteers, a precious resource we cannot afford to lose
When was the last time you tried to ride a bike but didn’t have wheels? Or when was the last time you attempted to drive your car without the engine? Similar to the wheels on your bike and the engine in your car, this is equivalent to what volunteers mean to Roadrunner Food Bank. There is no way we could distribute enough food to help nearly 40,000 people per week without them.
Volunteering is about giving; it’s about contributing and helping individuals and populations in and around the community. Volunteering is beyond valuable.
In the last fiscal year Roadrunner had over 18,000 volunteers walk through our doors. That is an extraordinary amount of people! Every single one of them made the decision to dedicate their time, talents and energy to helping out. In that same year, these volunteer contributed almost 41,000 hours of service for the greater good. A recent estimated dollar value of a volunteer was $21.36 per hour. So what would be the monetary value of these volunteers? $875,760! According to one estimate from the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans — nearly 27 percent of the adult population — contribute a collective 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $169 billion a year.
I don’t always like to quantify the value of the many volunteers that help us prep food to distribute thousands upon thousands of pounds of food through our doors every day. But I do want them to realize how much of an impact they are making whether individually or as a group. And I don’t mind letting them know that Roadrunner Food Bank would have to hire almost 20 full-time employees in order to do what they do for us over the course of a year. But it is not about the numbers or the money. Community members volunteer for a wide variety of reasons. Some volunteer to meet new people, possibly to acquire a new skill or just to give back to their community. Whatever their reason, every single person is valuable to our mission and they know that they are giving their time to a cause for the greater good.
Matt Sanderson is the Volunteer and Event Engagement Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank.