Volunteerism dropping elsewhere. But in Tucson? - Tucson News Now

Volunteerism dropping elsewhere. But in Tucson?

By Bud Foster - email

Generally, during a recession, people volunteer more because they have more time on their hands.

But a new survey by National Conference of Citizenship shows this recession may be different.

It shows that people are still volunteering,  just not as much.

"The number one reason people don't volunteer, is they feel they don't have the time," says Scott Ingram, Vice President of the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona.

"It's still to be determined where we are in this recession," he says.

In this recession, people are more concerned about how to take care of their families and may feel they don't have as much time.

But despite the national trends, Tucson seems to be okay so far.

"We've seen no evidence of that trend," says Ingram.

"It's all based on President Obama saying, why don't you do something," says Peter Norback, who has received a bit of fame after being part of a New York Times story about the drop in volunteerism.

Last January, after hearing President Obama's challenge, he decided to do something.

He asked everyone in his Miles Neighborhood to put out a can of food every Sunday and he'd pick it up and take it to the community food bank.

In the eight months since, he's collected enough to feed 1,100 people three meals a day. All by himself.

"I went to an organization and it was the same old, same old. And then that epiphany happened. I can do it. So I said, I don't need an organization," he says.

But the organization he's helping, the Community Food Bank, does need an organization and it's a good one.

It increased from 88,000 volunteer hours last year to 104,000 volunteer hours this year, a 26% increase.

"Right now, I'm laid off due to the recession," says Memo Yanez, who helps man the front line at the food bank. "I have nothing else to do at home so I might as well come out and help out."

 "We do have volunteers who are our clients," says Jack Parris, communications director for the Food Bank.

Many people who use the services are laid off, have lots of time on their hands, so they volunteer at the food bank in exchange for their food boxes. But it's not mandatory.

"They can come down here and volunteer and take advantage of our services that we offer for people here," Parris says.

The Junior League is an all volunteer service organization which is looking for volunteers. It has about 140 active members not and would like to have more. Partnering with other groups helps serve their needs.

"I think collaboration and pooling you resources is the best way to go when there is such a shortage of volunteers in this economy," says Kimberly Hoidal, of the Junior League of Tucson.

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