A short time ago, five former presidents stood together on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, to seek support for One America, an organization dedicated to raising funds for flood victims resulting from recent storms in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The event also provided an opportunity for the recognition of the 2017 Points of Light award recipients. The Points of Light initiative was founded by President George H.W Bush and has been continued by all of the subsequent presidents.
President Carter was the first to speak and eloquently lauded the volunteerism in America which, in fact, makes our country work. Carter speaks from long experience. For over 60 years, he and wife, Rosalynn, have dedicated a week each year to the building of Habitat for Humanity homes. That organization has committed to build 6,000 homes in the aforementioned flood areas. And it, like many others, cannot exist without volunteers. The remarks of the remaining former presidents on stage, Presidents Bushes 41 and 43, Clinton and Obama, were also highly complimentary of those who volunteer.
Statistics for the most recent year surveyed illustrate the scope of volunteer effort in the U.S.: 62.6 million people, representing 25.4% of the population, delivered over 8 billion billable hours with an estimated value of $173 billion. The population group most inclined to volunteer are those representing ages 35 to 44 with 30.6 percent participation. Overall, women volunteer at a 28.4 percent rate while men follow at 22.2 percent.
Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father most associated with volunteering in America and the promotion of such as a civic duty for each citizen. During his lifetime, Franklin organized a Philadelphia volunteer fire department, circulation libraries, public hospitals, mutual insurance companies, agricultural colleges and intellectual societies. He recognized the need of civil society to develop services and institutions beyond the capacity to deliver of formal government.
All of us are familiar with the many boards and commissions necessary for the successful administration of a governmental unit. Zoning and planning are necessary functions of government as are the administration of governmental units such as libraries, hospitals, museums or cemeteries. And this is to say nothing of the elective positions necessary to form city governments, townships, drainage districts, hospital…