With budgets tighter than ever, cities across America are increasingly looking for more free labor. Nowhere is that trend more evident than Yakima, Wash.
“More and more every year, a large part of what we do is volunteers,” says Archie Matthews, Yakima’s director of neighborhood development services, “It saves us a ton of money.”
Matthews says begging for volunteers is not beneath him. And to his surprise, he usually gets them. Once signed up, they do a variety of tasks, including construction work for low-income housing, painting over gang graffiti and keeping senior centers from having to close their doors.
According to a Volunteering in America study, last year 63 million Americans volunteered more than eight billion hours. When you calculate average wages and benefits for city employees, local governments saved $173 billion.