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Charlie Stewart

Give it Time
Money is not the only charitable gift you have to offer.

Holiday 2013

CSIf time is our most valuable commodity, then to give of it is to be at our most generous. Nationwide, about 64.5 million of us generously volunteered at least once during the year ended September 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was equivalent to a volunteer rate of 26.5 percent, which declined just slightly from the previous year.

But Pittsburgh is bucking that trend, and volunteering here is on the rise.

“We have over 6,000 volunteers who participate in all of our volunteer programs that we organize,” says Christy Stuber, director of volunteer initiatives for United Way of Allegheny County. “We are seeing an upward trend in the number of volunteers.”

Maria Bethel of Squirrel Hill is one of 400 volunteers in the Be a Middle School Mentor program supported by the United Way. For the third year in a row, she is meeting with a young student on Wednesdays after school at Pittsburgh Sterrett 6-8 in Point Breeze. A working mother of three, Bethel carves out this volunteer time because she recognizes that many kids don’t have the family support that she took for granted as a child.

CS“When you look back on your own life, you remember that one person who took time out to help you with a problem, who said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be better down the road,’” Bethel says. “I’m glad I can be that person.”

CSThe largest volunteer matching resource in our region is Pittsburgh Cares, which sends approximately 18,000 volunteers to about 250 nonprofits over the course of a year. Of those, 60 percent are women and 40 percent are men, which perfectly reflects the national ratios.

Nonprofits are looking for “skills-based volunteers” who can contribute both their talent and time, says Benjamin Weaver, community programs coordinator for Pittsburgh Cares. “We are always looking for volunteers who can do basic accounting, website and graphic design, information technology support, and marketing, and a lot of people have those skills in Pittsburgh,” he says.

Their impact is tremendous; the estimated value of the hours donated by Pittsburgh Cares volunteers this past year equaled nearly $1.1 million, according to Weaver.

But with some 3,000 nonprofit organizations registered in Pittsburgh, there is much more work to do.

“There are so many opportunities and so many nonprofits that are underfunded, which is why volunteering is so needed,” Stuber says. “It’s part of how we are a great civilization. We help each other.”

With many thanks to SHADY AVE magazine for granting me permission to reprint on my website.


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