When it comes to citizens who volunteer, Miami ranks dead last. This is an extraordinary and sobering statistic. How could this happen? Aren’t citizens of Miami interested in giving their time for a fellow human being?
According to www.volunteeringinamerica.gov, 15.2% of Miami residents volunteer, which ranks 51st out of 51 large cities. Out of that miniscule amount of citizens that do volunteer, the average amount of time that citizens volunteer is only 17.8 hours – which ranks 50th out of 51 large cities.
The Miami New Times writes that Miami's older citizens are a big reason behind such paltry numbers. Miami New Times goes on to say that 9.9% of older Miami citizens volunteered in 2010, compared to a national average of 23.7%. Once again, this is another category where Miami ranks dead last.
· Attachment to the community (ex. Homeownership)
· Poor transportation conditions (long commutes discourage volunteers)
· Education (lack of education can mean low volunteer rates)
· Unemployment (the higher the unemployment rate, the lower the volunteer rate)
· Foreclosures (the higher the foreclosure rate, the lower the volunteer rate)
Here is more food for thought: The study, A Tale of Two Cities: Civic Engagement in Miami and Minneapolis, reports that there are distinct contrasts between Minneapolis –St. Paul, (where civic engagement is ranked the highest in the nation), and Miami, (where civic engagement is lowest in the nation.)
For example, 42% of St. Paul citizens trust their local government, while only 24% of Miamians trust their local government. Another interesting fact is that the infrastructures of nonprofit facilities in St. Paul are much more extensive and better resourced than those in Miami.
Catalyst Miami is combating the low volunteer rates of Miami-Dade County head-on. One of the programs that Catalyst Miami has created is ReServe Miami. ReServe Miami matches continuing professionals age 55+, (ReServists), with organizations that need their expertise. These ReServists come from all walks of life, and include marketing managers, social workers, artists, administrative assistants, HR professionals, and financial analysts, as well as people who have worked at all levels in health care, banking, advertising, education and government.
The low volunteer rate of Miami is not news that Catalyst Miami will take while lying down.