|If you are single and do
volunteer work for civic, religious, charitable, or various
nonprofit organizations, you are not alone. Millions of
other single people perform volunteer services too.|
According to a new federal report
released this month, about 20 million unmarried Americans served
as volunteers last year.
The typical unmarried volunteer
donated 44 hours of his or her time in 2005, which would account
for nearly 900 million hours of service by unmarried volunteers
as a whole. Quite impressive.
This level of volunteer activity
by unmarried and single Americans certainly should dispel the
stereotype that singles are nothing but self-centered party
people. The new study, conducted by the Corporation for
National and Community Service, shows that millions of single
people are good-deed-doers.
About 29 percent of all
Americans, regardless of marital status, did some form of
volunteer work last year. Some 34 percent of married
people performed such service, compared with 23 percent of
single people. The higher rate of volunteering for married
people, especially those with kids, seems understandable, since
so many of them volunteer for activities involving their
And what types of services are
Americans, whether single or married, performing?
Over one-third of volunteers
reported coaching, refereeing, tutoring, mentoring, or teaching.
Fundraising or selling items to raise money for charity was the
next most common activity, performed by almost 30 percent of
volunteers. The third most common form of service (26.3%)
was collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food.
If you do volunteer work already,
then you know how personally rewarding it can be. The
satisfaction of giving can be emotionally and spiritually
Volunteering does not have to be
boring. You can meet new people, make new friends, and
find yourself doing things you never dreamed you could do or
You can volunteer in your own
community, in another state, or in another part of the world.
You can even do it while you are on vacation.
Single people might consider
taking a "volunteer vacation." You can sign up with a
charitable organization to spend a week, or several weeks,
performing valuable community service in a needy area and for a
But do your homework before you
jump into this, since a volunteer vacation could cost you
hundreds or even thousands of dollars to pay for food and
accommodations at the destination, not to mention the cost of
round trip travel.
A good first step might be to
read a book on the subject, such as Volunteer Vacations:
Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others
(Chicago Review Press, 2003).
Earthwatch Institute may be your
group of choice if you would like to volunteer with an
international nonprofit organization that connects volunteers
with scientific field research projects. Imagine returning
home and telling your family and friends about a vacation on
which you were helping to excavate mummies in the Atacama Desert
in Chile or to trace the history of Earth's fresh water back
nearly 20,000 years in Mongolia's Gobi Desert.
Perhaps Global Volunteers is the
group for you. Joining their international efforts might
find you working with children in Tanzania, or helping out at an
orphanage in India, or lending a hand with a conservation
project in Central America.
You might be drawn to Habitat for
Humanity International's Global Village Program . No
previous building experience is required. Your out of
pocket costs with this organization may range from $1,000 to
$2,200 for a nine-to-14 day trip overseas, not including
Maybe you would prefer something
closer to home and less expensive. Then consider the
American Hiking Society. The cost of their volunteer vacations
start at $130.
stunning backcountry locations to construct or rebuild
footpaths, cabins and shelters," says the American Hiking
Society website. "In the process, you meet new people,
explore canyons, peaks and valleys, enjoy quiet evenings around
a fire and come home refreshed and rejuvenated."
For a list of
other groups with Volunteer Vacation opportunities, check out
the website of JustGive. (http://www.justgive.org/html/ways/vacations.html)
singles who would like to meet other singles while doing
volunteer work in an urban or suburban location in the United
States, visit the website of Single Volunteers, Inc. (http://www.singlevolunteers.org)
They have chapters in about 18 states.
The Phoenix chapter's website
invites singles to volunteer cooking at HomeBase Youth Services.
The Baltimore chapter's website asks singles to help Maryland
Public Television with their pledge drive. The group in
Washington, DC wants singles to join together to help clean up
the grounds of the National Zoo.
There are now about 95 million
unmarried and single Americans. If you are one of the 75
million who did not perform volunteer services last year, then I
urge you to read this column again and think about how you could
give of your time and talents.
Millions of singles already know
how rewarding a volunteer experience can be. How about
Unmarried America 2006
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and