The Value of a Volunteer Hour

The Independent Sector, a leadership network for nonprofits, recently issued the results of a study calculating the value of a volunteer hour, placing it at an average of $22.55 in 2013 nationwide and $22.13 for Louisiana specifically. Volunteers are integral to NOAHH’s program, allowing the affiliate to charge no interest on our mortgages, which is the keystone to providing affordable housing to hard working, low income homeowners. There were 13,826 instances (eight hour shifts) of volunteering with NOAHH last year for a total of $2,447,755.04 worth of volunteer hours! This staggering number is equal to the value of about 29 homes, which is close to the current number of homes NOAHH completes in a year! By affording NOAHH this level of support, everything we do is made possible.

We asked core volunteer John Medeiros, frequent RHINO volunteers from Susquehanna University, and NOAHH supporters at the Barman’s Fund of Louisiana about what they thought the value of a volunteer hour would be (and a few other questions for a little bit of fun). Here’s their responses:

Core volunteer John Medeiros
John Medeiros
Medeiros has given nearly 700 hours of volunteer service to NOAHH in the years since he was stationed here in August 2007. That is the equivalent of a $15,000 donation! Since he began volunteering with NOAHH, he has become a reliable leader of volunteers and a constant supporter of the affiliate.

Q: How did you get involved with NOAHH?
A: A coworker at my new command was volunteering here, and he said it was a great opportunity to help out some others. I had just bought a house, and I said, “Hey, I could also learn how to work on my own home.” So I decided to give it a shot. Been here ever since.

Q: What kept you coming back?
A: The people, and knowing I was helping out, and it was a good cause.

Q: I mentioned the report earlier that put the value of a volunteer hour at $22.13. With 691 hours (and counting), that’s a great contribution you’ve made to NOAHH! How would you describe the value of a volunteer hour?
A: I don’t know. I just think it’s rewarding to be able to help people and know that it’s going to a good cause. You know, you put in your hours, but you don’t think of it as all those hours. You just kinda come out, meet a lot of new people, and have fun.

John Medeiros2
: How did you come to be leading volunteers on site?
A: When the person that got me started got transferred to a different command, he gave me all the paper work and all the reigns to take over. He told me to contact people and find out who was still interested in going. I’ve been trying to still motivate people to come out. Habitat has all their other volunteers coming out, and I try to help them as much as I can.

Q: What has been your favorite job on site?
A: I’ve done so many roofs, and I like doing them. My legs don’t like it much, though!

Q: And for a little fun: you’ve worked some with our regular USMC volunteers. How would you say they compare to Navy volunteers?
A: [Laughs] They come out on a regular basis. My guys don’t come out as often. I’ll give them props on that. They’re hard workers!

Don Weireck of Susquehanna University RHINOs

The Susquehanna University RHINOs have volunteered with NOAHH 21 times. Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans (RHINO) is a program through the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, which has supported NOAHH since Hurricane Katrina. You can read more of their story here.

Q: Why did you first choose to volunteer with New Orleans Area Habitat?
A: I chose to volunteer with New Orleans Area Habitat because in April of 2012 Susquehanna University was looking for a 4th GO Director to accompany the trip since there was so many students. This would have been SU’s 17th trip to New Orleans to assist with clean up and rebuilding since 2005.

Q: What has been your favorite part of volunteering on site?
A: My favorite part is helping a future homeowner with their house construction and meeting with them and discussing their long road since Katrina and how Habitat made their owning a home a reality vs. renting in horrible conditions sometimes.

Q: A recent report has placed the monetary value of a volunteer hour at $22.13. Of course, the value of a volunteer hour goes well beyond money. How you would measure the value of a volunteer hour?
A: I would measure the value of volunteering as something that you can’t put a price on. I volunteer here twice a year and I am also a Deputy Fire Chief at home with a volunteer department and I look at it as something we should all do. Life would be better and more rewarding for everyone if we could all just help each other and not just in times of need.

Q: 17 times! There has to be some fun stories from all those visits! Would you be willing to share some?
A: This is trip number 21 for Susquehanna and there are so many stories. I think the best was meeting Anthony Landrum in May 2012 while we were working on a house on Eagle Street. Anthony and I told each other stories for several days and have kept in touch since then. I have even asked him to tell his story to our groups since December 2012 so that our students could learn first hand how and what families had to endure being stranded in New Orleans before, during and after the hurricane. Anthony is a true friend.

Q: And finally, what are some of the other things you like to do when you visit New Orleans?
A: Our group tours 3 days a week as part of the cross cultural requirement of this program for graduation. We tour the swamp, plantation, cemetery tour, Katrina museum, Natchez steamboat, Preservation Hall, Bayou Boogaloo, Xavier University, WWII museum and Mardi Gras World to name a few.

David Nasser and members of the Barman’s Fund
The Barman’s Fund of Louisiana has donated materials purchased by pooling their tips on a few occasions, and recently, they have been on site volunteering with us. They have also supported our ROMP and other special events!

Q: Why did you choose to support New Orleans Area Habitat?
A: The Barman’s Fund of Louisiana gives back to local non-profits in our community. We chose Habitat for Humanity because we wanted to have an impact our followers could see, our supporters could get behind and our members could feel.

Q: What has been your favorite part of working on site?
A: Fellowship has been our favorite part of working with Habitat on site. It brings people together for a common goal, friendships are strengthened and new relationships are forged.

: There has been a recent report that placed the value of a volunteer hour at $22.13 for Louisiana in 2013. We like to think there’s much more to it than that admittedly impressive monetary value. Beyond money, how would you describe the value of a volunteer hour?
A: We would describe the value of a volunteer hour as more impressive than money. In our capitalist society, pundits place a monetary value on everything. An hour donated to improving the community we live in is worth more than money to the volunteers and to the recipients.

Q: So… if “New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity” were a cocktail, what exactly would be in it?
A: We’d mix a Habitat cocktail like this:

  • 1 part cooperation
  • 2 parts hard work
  • Fill with Love
  • Shake gently
  • Serve straight up