Virginia Beach volunteer impact drops seven percent in 2016

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Salem High School baseball players volunteer
Salem High School varsity baseball players volunteering at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center Saturday. (Justin Belichis)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The overall volunteer impact in Virginia Beach dropped seven percent in 2016, according to an annual report.

Last year 15,510 people volunteered 1.1 million hours — a value of more than $27 million. That’s about five cents saved on every $100 of the city’s real estate tax rate, according the Virginia Beach Office of Volunteer Resources.

People donated 361,084 hours of their time to the city’s emergency medical services program, 347,158 hours to the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office and 108,341 hours to the parks and recreation department.

Areas with the least volunteer hours were the city auditor’s office with 54 hours, public utilities with 122 hours and the city finance office with 297 hours.

In 2015, Virginia Beach’s volunteer count was 17,754 with 1,261,459 hours logged at a value of more than $29 million, according to the 2014-15 office of volunteer resources report.

Despite the drop, less-fortunate families in Virginia Beach are still receiving help at local food banks. Salem High School varsity baseball players saw this first hand volunteering at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center Saturday.

About 70 people lined the driveway to the cafeteria, waiting for tickets to collect foods inside like mushrooms, bread, cupcakes, greens, bananas, pasta, chips and soups.

Sebrine (right) handed cans of canned pumpkin and gummy candies out Saturday. (Justin Belichis)
Sebrine (right) handed cans of canned pumpkin and gummy candies out Saturday. (Justin Belichis)

Outfielder James Sebrine’s job was to pass out canned pumpkin, gummy candies and more.

“We just have to give back, because we’re blessed,” Sebrine said in an interview. “They’re hungry just like us.”

Sebrine said he’s volunteered before, but the experience was humbling seeing his teammates work together for a good cause.

Though the city did experience a drop in volunteer numbers, director of volunteer resources James Parke said data entry and restructuring opportunities could be to blame.

“In working with the city auditor’s office, we discovered that some of this issue can be attributed to restructuring volunteer opportunities to emphasize quality over quantity,” Parke said in a letter to the mayor and city council. “In some cases, reporting deficiencies were discovered and we will be working to correct those.”

Parke said the staff believes an open data portal will advertise more volunteer opportunities and increase accountability in data entry.

Other notable takeaways from the report:

  • 41,183 pounds of litter and debris were collected
  • 2,452 animals were adopted from the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center
  • 940 storm drains were marked by volunteers
  • 7,448 visitors were educated by volunteers at Virginia Beach historic museums
  • 76 percent of first graders could read at the appropriate grade-level with the help of VB Reads tutor-mentors
  •  $302,416 worth of meals and gifts collected by volunteers and given to families in need.

For more information on the impact of volunteerism and opportunities in Virginia Beach, click here.

Volunteers at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center Saturday
Saturday’s volunteers at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center. (Justin Belichis)