It's one thing to tell yourself you live in a great state. Important as that self-assessment is, having statistics to back it up is quite another.
A new report released this week by the Corporation for National and Community Service ranks Kansas fourth in the country in terms of volunteerism. Almost 37 percent of all Kansans donated their time and talent to one worthwhile cause or another in 2012. Only Utah, Minnesota and Idaho had higher rates of participation. Nationally, the average is approximately 25 percent.
"Volunteering is a core American value," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. "Americans who volunteer enrich our communities and keep our nation strong."
Kansans know that. Every town and city that dot the landscape of the Sunflower State is blessed with selfless individuals who want to make the world a better place in which to live.
You'll find them on the membership rolls of service clubs. Or assisting a nonprofit agency to fulfill its mission. You'll see them fundraising on behalf of those in need -- and there is no shortage as the transitioning economy continues to push ever more into poverty status. You'll see them reading to children, visiting the elderly, and serving on boards of directors.
Who are these volunteers? They come from all walks of life. As a group, parents are the most active, registering a 43.3 percent rate of volunteerism. Self-identified Baby Boomers have a 40.2 percent rate, Gen X'ers are at 39.8 percent, with teenagers close behind at 39.6. Older Kansans offer their unpaid assistance at a 37.3 percent clip, college students at 33.7 percent, and young adults are at 28.9.
No matter which subset of Kansas residents one examines, each one volunteers at a higher rate than the national average of 26.5 percent.
The involvement results in some impressive statistics:
* There were 807,860 volunteers in 2012;
* 82.9 million hours of service were logged;
* Those hours added up to $1.5 billion of service.
While these benefits are relatively easy to measure, the local effects of that collective spirit is priceless. We are better as a state and as a people for the compassion we display.
We would encourage everyone to get involved. The benefits you'll receive yourself just for volunteering will be as great as your contributions.
Kansas is indeed a great state to live in -- and it's the people who make it so strong. We have the numbers to prove it.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry