Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

What is the Value of a Volunteer?

October 11, 2022

What is the Value of a Volunteer?
As the leader of a nonprofit, I’m constantly advocating for the value of our volunteers. When we write grants or I explain what we do to a new donor or community partner, I am answering that one underlying question.

What intrinsic value do our Heart2Heart volunteers bring to the community?

There are different ways to answer that question. Since our volunteers are the heartbeat of everything we do, it’s an important question to explore.

The economic value

The first way to define the value of a volunteer is a purely economic calculation. According to the Independent Sector, a volunteer hour in the United States is worth an average of $29.95. They go as far as saying that volunteers “hold up the foundation of civil society.”

In 2021, our volunteers documented 1,951 hours of their time within the tri-county area. Using the Independent Sector’s rate, that’s worth $58,432!

That’s just last year. Every year, we continue to increase that value.

Without volunteers and nonprofits, our civic system would crumble in a day.

I would argue that our volunteers are worth even more than $29.95 per hour. After all, we operate in South Florida, a region with a higher cost of living and a higher average wage than the rest of the state.

Beyond that, many of our volunteers provide skill-based services. For example, our volunteer nurses donate their expertise and experience to our Relief C.A.R.E. program.

The social value

Of course, when Heart2Heart volunteers invest into the life of a senior, they’re doing more than volunteering an hour or more of their time. The type of volunteering that we do has a social and an emotional model behind it.

Our volunteers aren’t just providing a service. They’re investing their hearts into the life of another person. Our volunteers bring hope, love and purpose to people at a time in their lives when those resources are scarce.

Also, we’re bringing physical resources to seniors, such as wheelchairs, toiletries, socks and cozy blankets.

What volunteers put out in the community is of high importance. We’re taking everyday people and using them for the benefit of the community, which is the very definition of philanthropy.

Without volunteers and nonprofits, our civic system would crumble in a day. Heart2Heart is a part of that valuable ecosystem.

The value of faith

We’re also bringing faith into the picture. How do you measure the impact of faith?

Faith improves a person’s quality of life because it offers hope.

I wouldn’t say it’s more important or more valuable, but it’s unique. The organizations working with seniors with a faith-based model are really few and far in between.

Serving seniors often isn’t the most popular ministry. Kids make the top of the list. People like to say that they’re serving the homeless.

Seniors are often left out. People age out of the pew and are left alone. We’re the lost and forgotten ministry.

Filling the gap

I remember the first time I walked into a nursing home, when I was  in my early 20s. The smell was bad. The people did not seem happy. I was overwhelmed with how little I could do about it.

That day, we were there to lead Christmas carols, and that did not seem like enough. I remember praying, “Thank you, Lord, that there are other people doing this ministry, and I’m not one of them.”

I think God heard that prayer and said, “I’m going to change your mind.”

By the time I was 28, God gave me my first job as a medical representative. The rest, you might say, was history.

We all know deep inside that we’re going to age. None of us wants to spend our later decades alone.

At Heart2Heart, we offer every single level of volunteering. If you’re not ready to minister to seniors in a care center, you could write letters or cards from your home.

Our C.A.R.E. Tech program that allows our volunteers to video chat with seniors. You also could minister to seniors living independently at home through our Food for Hope program.

We also believe that the value of a volunteer is a two-way street. Our community gains value from Heart2Heart volunteers. But it is also our goal that our volunteers also find the experience valuable.

In this blog, we’re going to feature just a few of our valuable volunteers. We will look to them for more insight about the true value of a volunteer.

Stay tuned!

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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