April is National Volunteer Month!
April is National Volunteer Month, a time to support, honor, celebrate and show appreciation to those who give their time and effort to help those in need, to improve the conditions of our environment and to make the world a better, kinder, more equitable place!
Most of us understand the intrinsic value of volunteering. We feel good when we help others. There are also real, tangible reasons volunteering makes us “feel better.” According to AmeriCorps USA, people who volunteer more than 100 hours annual are among the healthiest people in the nation. Volunteering decreases the likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke by 40% by strengthening the mind and body, improving mood and lessening stress.
Although the pandemic had a devastating impact on many nonprofit organizations that rely heavily on volunteers to operate, it is estimated that more than 60.7 million Americans (23% of the population) formally volunteered with organizations last year. In total, these amazing humans served approximately 4.1 BILLION hours, with an economic value of $122.9 billion.
The American Presidency Project stated:
“We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. Volunteers provide all three. Service—the act of looking out for one another—is part of who we are as a Nation. Our commitment to service reflects our understanding that we can best meet our challenges when we join together. This week, we recognize the enduring contributions of our Nation’s volunteers and encourage more Americans to join their ranks.
“The tremendous power of volunteers and volunteerism has been on dramatic display in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All across the country, retired doctors and nurses, students and veterans, personnel from across the Federal Government, and countless others have given their time and talent to administer vaccines, staff vaccination centers, boost testing, tracing, and other life-saving public health measures, and provide food, water, and other necessities to those at heightened risk so they can remain safely at home.”
While an impressive 8,000,000 Californians volunteered nearly 7,000,000 hours of service last year, those numbers only equate to about 1/3rd of California’s citizens, placing our state 47th in terms of volunteerism per capita. Utah ranks 1st, with more than 51% of the state population engaging in regular volunteerism and 70% of residents donating at least $25 to charity annually.
If you are looking for an organization to volunteer with, please consider the Children’s Foundation of America. We are an entirely volunteer-operated organization, which was established nearly twenty years ago to provide “gap funding” for foster care programs. Money raised went directly to provide goods and services that were not available to children through the county contracts, such as certain healthcare, education and therapeutic essentials. Over the years, the Foundation has grown to serve more than 3,000 children and youth and over 20 separate children’s agencies. Click here to learn more about our volunteer program and get involved.
Cher Ofstedahl, CEO
Cher leads our organization which serves over 3,000 children in need each year. She also is the CEO of Trinity Youth Services, an agency which serves over 200 children and families daily through residential therapeutic services, mental health programs, foster care and adoption services. Cher advocates for children in need after experiencing her own childhood trauma. Her firsthand experience gives her unique insight into our mission to help children and families create a better future. In 2019, Cher completed her master’s degree in ethical leadership from Claremont Lincoln University. Cher currently serves on the Human Relations Committee for the City of Claremont to help oversee their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, serves on the Policy and Practice Commission for the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), is on the Juvenile Justice Steering Committee for the California Alliance for Children & Families, is a Design Thinking Department Advisor at University of California, Riverside and serves on the board for the Association of Community Human Service Agencies (ACHSA). In 2018, she was recognized by Senator Anthony Portantino as Outstanding Nonprofit Executive Director and, in 2022, Cher was named Woman of Distinction by Assemblymember Chris Holden.