Vail Valley Voices: Volunteers help in tough times |

Vail Valley Voices: Volunteers help in tough times

Cheryl Thomas and Holly Kasper
Vail, CO, Colorado

The world economy is on everyone’s mind. Employees are wondering about their jobs and benefits, and our agencies providing essential services to those who have serious needs to be met are in even more dire need.

America’s nearly 61 million volunteers are an engine that powers thousands of nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations across the nation allowing them to improve their services, extend their reach and continue to support community economics and development.

They are tackling our society’s toughest challenges: poverty, education, housing, natural disasters and aging populations, just to name a few. These volunteers make a huge difference.

In fact, rigorous scientific research reinforces that the single most effective intervention against most of these problems proves to be citizens willing to each stand up, say, “I care,” and volunteer their time and energy.

Here in Eagle County, the Volunteer Center (all ages) and Rural Resort RSVP (55-plus) coordinate generous people of all ages as a strong volunteer force that supports the county’s economic development as well as our human service needs.

Through the Eagle County Volunteer Services, over 500 volunteers are registered and receive information on new and on-going volunteer opportunities.

Every one of these volunteers and every single hour they donate are of value that is provided to the quality of cultural arts, the environmental, recreational, educational, patriotism, victim assistance and disaster relief efforts of our county.

Energize Inc., a national volunteer resource organization, notes as of 2007, the average value of a volunteer’s time in our region is around $20/hour.

In Eagle County, volunteers provide the equivalent of over $500,000 of labor and time annually.

During hard times, people may think they can’t afford to support a nonprofit.

The investment of a volunteer’s time is priceless, and the impact far out prices any expense.

Think about the impact of the Adopt-a-Family program from the Salvation Army during the holidays. This is typically an investment of a few hours.

Think about the efforts every month donated to help build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Think about the little puppy someone left on the side of the road, rescued by one of our animal care organizations and then adopted after recovering from the trauma by the loving hand of a volunteer.

And when we need to open our shelters, who sets up the site and takes time to talk to those stranded and find the resources to help them through the crisis? Volunteers.

Have you heard the expression that helping others when your life is falling apart can be the best medicine? It’s true!

Volunteering can help overcome the feeling of helplessness or powerlessness that disaster evokes.

Think of the frail, elderly neighbor who has lived here their entire life, the rock of our mountain communities and every corner of our county.

A visit from a caring volunteer one or two hours a week can make the biggest the difference in their life. Taking a casserole, picking up groceries, driving them to their medical appointment and helping with other basic home management needs can help them stay in their homes a while longer.

Philanthropic support to an organization does not have to always be in the form of a monetary donation. Your time, especially during this economic downturn, can help our county maintain the tourist industry, the wonderful cultural and recreation events we offer, and most importantly, the human services and quality of life we all treasure as residents of Eagle County.

Contact Eagle County Volunteer Services at or 328-8843 to help during this difficult time.

Cheryl Thomas is the RSVP coordinator; and Holly Kasper is the Volunteer Center coordinator.

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