Report: 28 percent of Hoosiers regularly volunteer

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More than a quarter of Indiana residents regularly volunteered last year to help nonprofit groups carry out their missions, a new study has found.

The Corporation for National and Community Service's report found that 28.2 percent of Hoosiers — or about 1.37 million people — regularly volunteered during 2013. That ranked Indiana 23rd among other states and Washington, D.C., when it comes to volunteering.

But the study, which is based on monthly surveys of U.S. households by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that Indiana's volunteer rate has fallen by 4.3 percent from a decade ago, when the state's volunteer rate was 31.2 percent.

In addition, it found that 26.8 percent of Hoosiers between ages 16 and 19 volunteered, but that rate fell closer to 20 percent for people aged 20 to 34 before it rose to more than 30 percent for those ages 35 to 64.

Overall, Indiana's volunteers logged 131.1 million hours — the equivalent of about $2.9 billion — last year.

For nonprofits, volunteers' time is irreplaceable because it helps them carry out their missions.

"We couldn't have an affordable housing program without volunteers," Doug Taylor, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Lafayette, told the Journal & Courier ( ).

Taylor said the group has built 280 houses in Lafayette and each one takes about 2,500 volunteer hours to complete. But he said that figure doesn't include volunteer time spent fundraising and selecting families for the program.

Earlier this month, Lafayette retiree George Taylor stood in mud-caked shoes as he helped maneuver trusses to the roof of a Habitat for Humanity house going up in Lafayette. He's been volunteering twice a week since 2009 to build homes for the group.

"I just felt a need to give back," Taylor said. "It really makes you feel good to see the family you're helping. Like when a little kid says, 'This is my first bedroom.'"

Food Finders Food Bank last year benefited from volunteers who donated more than 33,000 hours, the equivalent of 16 full-time employees, said executive director Katy Bunder.

"It makes a huge difference. We have a staff of 22 people. We couldn't do it ourselves," she said.

The new report found that 38.4 percent of Indiana's volunteers gave their time for religious organizations, 20.6 percent volunteered in the education field, 15.7 percent did so for social service agencies and a 21.1 percent volunteered for health, civic, sports, arts or other fields.

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