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Utah top state for voluntarism seven years in a row

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13 2012 12:45 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is tops in voluntary service. Again. For seven years running, according to the latest Volunteering and Civic Life in America report.

The Beehive State not only ranks number one for volunteering, a higher percentage of Utah parents volunteer. The report, based on U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, says Utah also ranks No. 1 for doing favors for neighbors.

Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, chairman of the the Utah Commission on Volunteers, said there is a strong ethic of voluntarism in the state's churches, nonprofit sector and schools.

"While our commission does all it can to encourage this, it's just in the DNA of Utahns" to volunteer, Bell said at a press conference Thursday morning to announce the rankings.

Provo and Ogden ranked No. 1 and No. 2 as the top volunteer cities, while Salt Lake City was fourth, according to the report released by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Julie Fisher, executive director of the state of  Department of Heritage and Arts, said not only is Utah top rated for volunteerism, its efforts far outstrip national averages.

For instance, the report says 40.9 percent of adults in Utah volunteer, compared the national average of 26.8 percent. 

More than half — 52 percent — of Utah parents volunteer, compared to the national average of 34 percent.

"Just as an example, last year, the Utah PTA logged 10 million volunteer hours across the state," Fisher said.

Bell said parents volunteering at schools results in children earning higher grades, having better attitudes about school and lower rates of suspensions and expulsions.

Many volunteers in Utah schools are helping children learn to read or improve their reading skills.

"They provide real supplemental value," Bell said.

Sophia DiCaro, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said the report states 837,650 Utah volunteers gave nearly 144 million hours of service in 2012.

The numbers, she said, are "very astounding and significant."

The estimated value of a volunteer hour in Utah is $21.79. 

"These numbers contribute heavily to the nonprofit labor force," DiCaro said.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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