Weil

Volunteerism. It’s about people helping people and, in the process, helping themselves. It’s about working together for a common goal, it’s about enrichment, togetherness, and community.

There’s something about being a volunteer that’s rejuvenating, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a baseball coach or a Boy Scout leader (though both are excellent ways to spend your time). There are just so many things you can volunteer to do.

It’s amazing how much time and money Americans spend on helping their fellow man. And what’s more amazing is that the value of the time donated often outstrips financial giving.

There’s an online organization that researches the dollar value of volunteer time. It’s called Independent Sector (www.independentsector.org) and it’s been tracking the dollar value of volunteerism time since 1980. The organization considers itself a leadership forum for charities, foundations, and corporate giving programs and according to the website, they’re committed to advancing the common good in America and around the world. Independent Sector consists of a nonpartisan coalition of nearly 600 organizations with a mission to “lead, strengthen, and mobilize the charitable community in order to fulfill our vision of a just and inclusive society and a healthy democracy of active citizens, effective institutions, and vibrant communities.”

Some pretty heady stuff. Also acccording to their website, the value of volunteerism in the U.S. in 2007 is $19.51 per hour.

How do they figure this? They value volunteer time based on the average hourly earnings of all production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls (as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Independent Sector takes this figure and increases it by 12% to estimate for fringe benefits.

At this dollar value, and with so many people volunteering their time, it’s like giving millions of dollars toward helping others.

In the HVAC Industry, we all volunteer to a certain degree. In some cases it’s through the trade associations we belong to, in other cases it’s through trade groups our customers belong to. Many of our co-workers give of their time through organizations like United Way, the Red Cross, and hunger centers.

In my family, my kids volunteer for walk-a-thons to raise money for cancer research, they’ll help clean up a local park, or pitch in to build a ball diamond — something their mother and I find amazing because, like most teenagers, they’re nowhere to be found when chores need to be done. Who says charity begins at home?

Even reality shows like American Idol build volunteerism into their programming and wind up pumping millions of dollars into charitable organizations worldwide.

And so I thought it might be time for Contracting Business to get active. What better place to do it than during our HVAC Comfortech 2008 residential and light commercial seminar and product showcase?

For the first time ever, we’re planning a showbased commmunity service project and we’re calling it Comfortech Gives Back. The group we’re working with is called the Senior Citizen Services of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. (SCSATL) and the program is called Home Owner Maintenance and Enhancement for Seniors (HOMES). They target lowincome seniors in Fulton County. A full description can be found at www. scsatl.org/homes.htm.

HOMES will find five or six houses in a neighborhood occupied by senior citizens who struggle to keep up with the maintenance of their homes. That neighborhood becomes our custom project.

So on the last day of the show, Saturday, September 13th, we’ll load up volunteers on buses around noon, head to the neighborhood, and help these good people out. All we need are volunteers.

So if you’re planning to attend HVAC Comfortech this September and wish to volunteer to help, then plan on joining us. More information will be printed here in Contracting Business, on HVAC-talk.com, and on ContractingBusiness.com. Do something that is good for the community, and great for your soul.

Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta in September.