Indiana’s number of volunteer hours dropped below the national average for the first time since 2006, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
Monte Simonton is the youth and mentor program coordinator at Middle Way House, the crisis shelter in Bloomington. He says the organization’s volunteer network has remained steady the past few years, but volunteers have cut back hours to work other paid jobs.
“The economy and tuition going up and housing costs in Bloomington are extremely expensive,” he says. “And I think where as you may have had some students whose parents may have traditionally been able to pay for everything, a lot more of those parents are asking the students to contribute.”
Because many volunteers now only have time to work one shift a week, different areas of Middle Way House see a strain in covering all of the shifts. Community Service Coordinator for Middle Way House Debra Morrow says it helps to have dedicated volunteers who make their time at the center a priority.
“I have one volunteer who just recently had to get a job, and she specifically told them the day that she volunteers she she’s not able to work,” she says. “I think, like I said, that if someone is really committed to volunteering they’re going to find a way to do it.”
Morrow says they always manage to find a volunteer of staff member to cover the crisis hotline if there is an empty shift so women in need will always be able to find help.