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Why do we even care about helping others?

Sep 24, 2015 02:28PM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

Day of Caring volunteers pose with the United Way thermometer. Every year The Batavia United Way organizes the Day of Caring to help seniors in Batavia rake their leaves. For dates and to sign up, contact melinda@bataviaunitedway.org.

“Social Responsibility” is so important to community that Neighbors Magazines includes it in the six basic components that define community: governance, education, recreation, culture, commerce and social responsibility. In 2012, over 60% of Batavia residents reported charitable donations on their tax returns, totaling over $25.5 million. Add in unreported donations and
the figure is closer to 83% of those who donated money, according to a Gallop Poll. Several studies of volunteer time for not-for-profit organizations indicate that about 27% (ages 16 and up) donate time. In a Gallop Poll study, 65% said they volunteered time in the past year.

In many studies the United States ranks at, or near, the top in the world, with regard to ndividual donations of time and treasure. Over 75% of Americans agree that “social responsibility” is an important ingredient in a successful community.

What is social responsibility, why is it important, and how does it impact our lives in Batavia?
Wikipedia tell us that “Social responsibility is an ethical framework which suggests that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystems.”

Maybe social responsibility starts at home. When you cut the grass it makes you feel good. Your neighbor will appreciates it, too. Placing a paper bag in a recycling bin doesn’t do much for you, but in a very small way you’ve just made the world a better place to live. Drop a buck in the Salvation Army bucket and you make the world a better place…for someone else. But when you step out and donate your time, that’s when you really start to embrace social responsibility.

The Doris J. Hunt Volunteer of the Year was awarded to CASA/GAL Elizabeth Erotas-Rouzer (far right) shown with her family.

 Every month Neighbor’s Magazines receives hundreds of press releases announcing upcoming events in Kane and DuPage counties. Our list of over 400 not-for-profit organizations is just a very small part of the 1.5 million registered charities in the U.S. The 62 million Americans (27%) who volunteer 50 hours per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics) says something about
the culture of giving in America. Drill that down to the town level and we find a very strong sense of responsibility to help each other within our community. If national statistics can be applied, roughly 6,000 Batavians put in about 300,000 hours of time supporting the charities of their choice.

“All of us have the potential to be vulnerable in our lives when unemployment occurs, a medical crisis happens, aging is more complicated than we expected or quite simply, life does not go as planned,” says Melinda Kintz, Executive Director, Batavia United Way. “But sometimes we need to call upon the experts, Our goal is to ensure these services are available if/when the time comes for the betterment of all.”

Studies report many benefits of individual social responsibility: improved relationships within
the community, improved communications between socioeconomic classes, better education
for poor and rich alike, less depression, improved health overall, lower crime rates, and happier lifestyle.

In a 2001 study, Independent Sector, a charity umbrella group, found that 84% of charitable donors said they give time and treasure because believe they can improve the welfare of others. This begs the question: why is someone else’s welfare important and why would
such a large majority care?

For the many organizations and professionals studying this question, it has been difficult to pinpoint an answer. Is it for tax deductions? According to Independent Sector only 20% of households that contribute cite the tax deduction. Is it religion? Gallop Poll says “…religious Americans are just as likely as nonreligious Americansto report nonreligious giving and volunteering.” Perhaps it has something to do with gender? There is no difference in self-reported involvement with charitable activity or donations by gender, according to Gallop Poll.

Eugene Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, says their studies have found varying motivations. “Typically, people give because they identify with a cause…there are people who feel a responsibility to give back…and often people will say if they are asked by the right person, they will give.” 

“I personally believe that we all have a social 
responsibility to do our part in taking care of the
community we live in, says Michelle Meyer, Executive Director, Mutual Ground, Aurora. “Whether someone is acting as an individual, part of an organization, corporation, church or club, we all have an obligation to make a positive impact on society while we are here living on this earth.”

“Batavia is a community comprised of people who take care of each other,” adds Melinda Kintz. “It seems then, we give because we are good. The part of the American character that is hopeful and generous—while flawed, while not perfect—is fundamentally intact,” concludes Albert Oetgen, NBC News (Nov. 20, 2006).

For more information about Social Responsibility, including opportunities to give time and treasure locally, go to KaneNeighbors.com.
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