January 30, 2015

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand

FRANKFORT – Those who say you can’t get something for nothing apparently have never met a volunteer.

About two-thirds of adults in our country actively help others like a neighbor, while roughly a fourth go a step further and donate time through their churches, civic groups, charities, schools and other helpful organizations.

That group provides about 8 billion hours of work for free each a year, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the value of that time is estimated at $175 billion. For Kentucky, nearly 800,000 people volunteered in 2013, putting in 87 million hours worth about $2 billion.

Collecting and distributing food to those in need, fundraising and mentoring youth are the three largest categories of volunteering, the center says.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics adds that the 35-44 age group has the highest volunteer rate, but the most hours per volunteer goes to those between 65 and 74. Among young adults, college students volunteer at a rate twice as high as those not enrolled in postsecondary education.

Beyond giving our time, we are also generous in donating money as well. The Giving USA Foundation put that figure nationally at more than $335 billion in 2013, which was near pre-recession levels and more than a fifth higher than it was in 2009.

Kentucky is blessed to have a wide variety of organizations whose chief mission is to help others.

Habitat for Humanity, for example, has built more than 2,300 homes across the commonwealth over the last two decades and has a presence in about half of our counties. Over the last 60-plus years, WHAS Crusade for Children has raised more than $160 million.

There are also more than 17,000 non-profit organizations in Kentucky, and they employ nearly 10 percent of the state’s workforce while generating nearly $24 billion in revenues.

AmeriCorps, a federally-backed program that celebrated its 20th anniversary last fall, is another organization making a difference. More than 900,000 have taken part over the years, including 9,400 in Kentucky. Their work ranges from tutoring children and helping survivors of domestic violence to making sure communities are better prepared for emergencies. In 2013, those in Kentucky also trained and supervised almost 16,000 volunteers.

The program is administered by the Kentucky Commission on Community and Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), which is part of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

In addition to that work, KCCVS oversees the Governor’s Service Awards, which are also in their 20th year. If you know of a volunteer or group deserving recognition, now is an ideal time to highlight what they do.

The awards will be presented by early summer, but the deadline to submit a nomination is Feb. 18th. There are 14 categories, including one that recognizes senior citizens and another focusing on youth. There are awards for faith-based groups, corporations and those whose volunteering took place primarily beyond our borders. Most of the awards have to pertain to service given in 2014, but there is a lifetime achievement award to recognize someone’s enduring dedication.

To learn more about the awards and to submit an application, visit http://www.chfs.ky.gov/dfrcvs/kccvs/govawards.htm or call (800) 239-7404, ext. 3841.

There is never a bad time to recognize those who selflessly give their time and talents, but a spotlight will be focused on their efforts when Governor Beshear proclaims April 12-18 to be Kentucky Volunteer Week. Other days set aside nationally to recognize and promote volunteerism occur on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and on Sept. 11th, which is the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

If you are a volunteer or donate to a good cause, I want to thank you for making a difference in our community and our country and want you to know it is truly appreciated. The world would be a far poorer place without your contributions.

This week, as you may know, the General Assembly returns to the Capitol to kick off the remainder of this year’s legislative session. If you have any thoughts or concerns regarding issues affecting the state, you can always write to me at Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort KY 40601; or you can email me at Rick.Rand@lrc.ky.gov.

To leave a message for me or for any legislator, call toll-free at 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer