Those we count on are themselves being counted Efforts valued at $11.58 an hour

April 18, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

It's National Volunteer Week. Do you know where your volunteers are?

Maryland is trying to find out, and Carroll County is helping.

The Governor's Office on Volunteerism is working on a statewide study of volunteerism in Maryland. The office has asked each dTC county to count its volunteers and the number of hours they have contributed.

In Carroll County, 30,127 volunteers gave 769,715 hours in 1992, according to a March 31 memo to the county commissioners from Peggy Henderson, coordinator of county volunteer services.

Recreation-related work attracted the most volunteers, according to Ms. Henderson. She said 16,929 Carroll volunteers donated 355,522 hours to recreation programs.

Dave Minges, director of the Governor's Office on Volunteerism, said this is the first year the state study included private groups and nonprofit agencies. Previous state tallies had included only volunteers in government programs, he said.

He said the new study won't be finished until at least June 30.

Ms. Henderson said 40 organizations and programs responded to the Carroll County survey.

It will take two or three years before all the nonprofit groups in the state are identified, Mr. Minges said.

Ms. Henderson used a value of $11.58 an hour to estimate the worth of volunteer time in the county in 1992 at more than $8.9 million.

Putting a dollar value on volunteers' time is a matter of some controversy, Mr. Minges said. But grant-making agencies often ask for the information, and the data is also useful when volunteer groups lobby the legislature for money.

L "This is a very real resource," he said. "Why not value it?"

Nationally, he said, groups that use volunteers often place a value of $10 to $12 an hour on their time. That may seem high, considering that many volunteers perform tasks that would command only the minimum wage if the workers were paid.

But, Mr. Minges said, you have to consider the value of the volunteer's time. Serving food in a soup kitchen may be minimum-wage work. But if a nuclear physicist volunteers at a

soup kitchen, he said, the value of

his time would be much higher than $4.25 an hour.

Statewide, he said, volunteerism is changing.

Interest in volunteer work is growing, he said, but today's volunteers have less time. They want specific tasks that bring immediate feelings of accomplishment.

The stereotype of volunteers as little old ladies is "changing radically," he said. More men are volunteering.

So are more young people -- a trend that will continue as Maryland high school students are required to log volunteer time as a high school graduation requirement.

Mr. Minges said that, as he has spoken to volunteer groups about National Volunteer Week, he has asked them, "How is your organization going to change, to involve youth and to involve working adults?"

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