Iowa has a new goal to shoot for: Become the national leader in service and volunteerism by 2015.
That shouldn’t be that hard, since Iowa currently ranks second in the nation in volunteerism, but Patti Fields of the United Way of Johnson County said less than half of Iowa residents volunteer their time during the year. Currently, the average Iowan volunteers 34.2 hours per year, and raising that to 50 hours annually would have an overall impact of $1 billion, she said.
To that end, Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Fields and others joined forces Monday to announce a new public-private partnership initiative titled “Volunteer Iowa: A Call to Service.”
The goal of the “Call to Service” initiative is to make Iowa the national leader in service and volunteerism by 2015 by focusing on volunteer expansion in Iowa’s most pressing areas throughout the state, while focusing on the administration’s goals of becoming the healthiest state in the nation, having the best schools and growing Iowa’s economy.
“Volunteerism is an integral part to the state’s future and well-being,” Branstad told his weekly news conference. “Our objective for the ‘Call to Service’ is to increase the number of Iowans who are volunteering, as well as the number of hours that they serve. Iowa currently ranks second in the nation in volunteerism, and just as we want to become the healthiest state in the nation and have the best schools, I know Iowa can lead the nation in volunteerism as well.”
The “Call to Service” initiative is driven by the private sector, but publicly endorsed while working with non-profits and other organizations to increase the volunteer supply, demand and retention, mobilize communities and generate targeted tactics to expand volunteerism in Iowa. The multi-year blueprint seeks to eliminate barriers preventing meaningful volunteer engagement and strengthen the behavioral norm of service in Iowa.
As a first step, Iowans are encouraged to take part in a local service project during the week of Sept. 10, 2012, as part of the launch of “Volunteer Iowa: A Call to Service.” A complete list of service projects can be found at www.volunteeriowa.org