WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 8-14, 2011)

VOLUNTEEERING

Twin Cities lead nation in giving back to communities.” By Brian Tumulty. USA Today. August 9, 2011. Minneapolis-St. Paul had the highest rate of volunteering in the country last year among large metro areas, according to a report released Tuesday. Just over 37% of people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area did volunteer work at schools, community groups, religious organizations and other non-profits, says the annual Volunteering in American report from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Utah topped states in the percentage of volunteers, at 44.5%. Nationwide, the number of volunteers dropped last year by 600,000 to 62.8 million, bringing the national volunteering rate down by a half a percentage point, to 26.3%, the report says. Robert Velasco, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, says the drop isn’t significant. “It’s a very small dip, and one year’s data (are) not representative of a trend,” he says. The median number of annual hours served by each volunteer rose from 50 to 52, so the total time devoted to volunteering remained flat. Also, the survey doesn’t count informal volunteer work, such as when a neighbor cares for a shut-in by purchasing groceries and doing other errands, he says. Other top-volunteering metro areas: Portland, Ore. (36.2%), Salt Lake City (34.1%), Seattle (33.9%) and Rochester, N.Y. (33.8%). Minneapolis-St. Paul owes its No. 1 ranking at least partly to Midwestern culture, says Kristin Schurrer, executive director of the HandsOn volunteer network in the Twin Cities. “Children learn from their families the importance of volunteerism and giving back to the community,” Schurrer says. “A lot of people who live here in the Twin Cities have grown up in smaller communities.”

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