One of the biggest issues facing organizations primarily run by volunteer groups throughout the Adirondacks is that people just can’t find the time to volunteer. Between jobs and other family responsibilities, many people don’t think there is any time leftover to commit to volunteering.
Yet, what your time can do for others has tremendous value.
It makes business sense for organizations to sign up volunteers. A 2010 Volunteering in America study estimated that an hour of volunteering was worth $26. And volunteer firefighters save localities about $129.7 billion every year in the U.S.
Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President David Jacobowitz said that statewide studies have shown that if all volunteer fire protective services were funded by taxpayers, it would add about $2.8 billion in labor costs and $4.4 billion in equipment, structural changes, fire vehicle value, and general operational costs per year.
Not-for-profit groups are faced with the realities of relying on volunteers for their survival. In the end, if enough volunteers cannot be found, some smaller groups — such as local museums — may have to cut hours or even close.
Fire departments are faced with similar challenges. In 2011, for example, the Blue Mountain Lake Volunteer Fire Department was faced with closure due to the decline in volunteers. With the help of the community, which overwhelmingly wanted the fire department to stay active, new members joined and the fire department was saved.
Many local fire and rescue departments have dramatically smaller squads than when the current senior members began. According to a report by the National Volunteer Fire Council, the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped 14 percent since 1984. While the number of new volunteers is going down, the age of current volunteers is increasing and the volume of emergency calls remain the same.
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