Several volunteers gathered at Boondocks Brewing Monday morning to receive Governor’s Awards for Excellence to honor their committee to outstanding volunteerism.
“We’re so fortunate and blessed in this county to have the people we do have involved in volunteerism,” said Ashe County Board Commissioner William Sands.
Recognition for volunteers is well deserved; volunteers spend time at Ashe Memorial Hospital, Ashe Service for Aging, hospices, tax aid, and provide countless other services in the High Country. With this in mind, how much money are volunteer services worth in Ashe County?
According to Ashe County Commissioner William Sands, the total dollar amount of volunteer hours in Ashe County is worth about $8 million per year.
To arrive at this amount, Sands received an estimate of how many volunteer hours are donated to Ashe County every year from Glenda Luther, Ashe County’s volunteer coordinator.
“In Ashe, on any given day, volunteers are contributing 1,000 hours,” said Luther. She called this a “conservative” number.
If an average of 1,000 volunteer hours are spent each day in Ashe County, then an estimated 365,000 hours are spent each year.
According to the N.C. Department of Commerce Office of Urban Development, the estimated value of volunteer time is $22.14 per hour in North Carolina. This number is calculated according to the types of jobs volunteers do, and the training required for many of those jobs.
Using these figures, approximately $8.08 million are saved through volunteer work in Ashe County alone.
Even if this number was totaled using the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the financial impact of volunteer work in Ashe County still equals approximately $2.65 million.
During Monday’s BOC meeting, the board made sure to recognize the recipients of the Governor’s Award during the commissioner comments portion of the meeting.
“I think we had about 18 or 20 girls that are 6 to 8 years old, and the beauty of that is if they’re volunteering their time at this age; as time goes on, (imagine) what we have to look forward to in the future,” said Rhodes
“I thought it was a welcome sight to see that group,” said Rhodes.
Along with the Governor’s Award winners, Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell recognized a group of high school students who worked in conjunction with Keep Ashe Beautiful to paint over a wall, covering its graffiti, at the intersection of U.S. 221 and N.C. 163.
“I want to say how much we appreciate the clean up of that wall. It’s one of the first things you see as you come up to that intersection, and I just think it’s great that these young people are out there doing that kind of community development,” said Mitchell at the end of Monday’s meeting.
The Governor’s Award recipients included the Praise Brigade, Fletcher Memorial Baptists Church’s youth group, High Country Home Health Care Hospice, Bernadette Zimmerman from New Beginnings, and Hewey Testerman.