We’ve all known that Buffalo is a generous community that features a large number of volunteers that want to make the town and county a better place to live. This view was reinforced Monday night when Missouri Community Betterment named Buffalo as Community of the Year for 2018 (see front page story).

According to a news release from MCB, this award recognizes the outstanding community among the 19 entered in the 2018 awards program. MCB volunteer judges and board members were impressed with the strong base of passionate volunteers representing all aspects of the community, including youth representatives and governing officials.

“Buffalo community members understand the value of creating a venue for entertainment and a unique experience for visitors while maintaining a community that consists of caring, service-minded volunteers who protect and continue to improve upon the quality of life for all residents,” according to the release.

MCB representatives recently visited Buffalo to get a first-hand look at some of the activities and venues in the area. The city’s presentation was headquartered at the Market 116 Events Center where Joy Beamer, president of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce, talked about DIVAS, the women’s empowerment group.

A representative of the Hillbillys and Hot Rods car show took the visitors for a ride in a vintage car, and John Crawford gave them a tour of the fairgrounds. Other events featured were the Old Home Place Concert Series and Helping Hands, a volunteer group that repairs and cleans up property for those unable to do so on their own.

Buffalo features many other events and programs throughout the year, such as Dallas County Toys for Tots, the Celtic Festival, Dallas County Fair, the Art Walk, Dallas County Expo, the alumni reunion and the Veterans Parade and Christmas Parade.

“Community of the Year” is a great award, and well deserved. Keep up the good work, Buffalo!

***

Speaking of volunteerism, the rate has gone up and down over the years, and in 2013 the percentage of people in America donating time to charity hit its lowest level since the government began tracking volunteerism in 2002. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the volunteer rate declined 1.1 points to a rate of 25.4 percent in 2013. Some 62.6 million people performed unpaid work through or for organizations. Back in 2003 the volunteer rate was 27.6 percent.

In 2013 women volunteered more than men, 28.4 to 22.2 percent across all major demographic groups. And people ages 35-44 were more likely than all other age groups to volunteer. Older folks are more likely to volunteer for religious organizations than younger people.

Things got worse by 2015 when the volunteer rate was down to 24.9 percent. Among the major ethnicity groups, whites continued to volunteer at a higher rate (26.4 percent) than blacks (19.3 percent), Asians (17.9 percent) and Hispanics (15.5 percent).

In an article in 2016, Tess Srebro, VolunteerMatch’s senior marketing manager, explored some possible reasons why volunteerism has been declining over the past decade. 

She said there is an endless supply of reasons that could explain why volunteer rates are falling. She said VolunteerMatch President Greg Baldwin believes that volunteer rates are falling because we as a nation don’t invest enough resources in the nonprofit sector. Without resources, nonprofits simply don’t have the capacity to effectively engage volunteers.

Some believe that more people are overworked with less time on their hands. 

“I personally think it could be attributed to a shifting trend away from community involvement, due to the emergence of online communities, young people moving more often, and other factors,” Srebro wrote.

Commenting on Srebro’s article, Annette Bowles said she is a volunteer coordinator at a large nonprofit. She likes to utilize retirees as her stable “base” during the day. 

“But a lot of my retirees are aging out and now I’m finding it difficult to recruit new retirees because they are all having to work much longer for obvious reasons,” she said.

Considering the long-term decline, it’s great to see that the spirit of volunteerism seems to be alive and well in Buffalo and Dallas County.

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