Members of the Saugus High School Dance Team join hundreds of volunteers for the 24th City of Santa Clarita River Rally to clean up the Santa Clara River bed in Santa Clarita on Saturday, September 22, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)

Report: 2017 volunteers invested more than 56k hours in SCV programs, events

The city of Santa Clarita has released its 2017 annual volunteers report, revealing an accumulation of volunteer hours equivalent to more than 20 full-time employees.

The report breaks down several components including economic impact, how many volunteers participated and where they volunteered the most.

For 2017, a total of 5,124 volunteers offered a sum of 56,886 hours of their time with a Santa Clarita Valley program, event or with local organizations.

Tess Simgen, arts and events supervisor with the city, said that while these numbers are impressive, they are not the highest ever. In 2016, the number of volunteers was slightly higher. These numbers vary annually, as some years will have additional events, she said.

How does the community receive so many volunteers? Word of mouth.

“For most events, like the marathons, you’ll get a lot of returning volunteers, and they bring their families or tell someone they know,” Simgen said. “Word of mouth is huge.”

Another method of recruiting volunteers is outreach at school clubs or community organizations. Sometimes businesses or churches reach out for help with a project, Simgen said.

While volunteers participate at a variety of places and events, the city’s youth sports program received the most volunteer hours, followed by libraries and events.

Simgen said that with nearly 700 volunteer coaches, more than 27,000 hours were dedicated to the youth in 2017. Each volunteer provided about 40 hours per season.

At 11,500 hours and more than 500 volunteers, libraries came in second. The value of volunteer hours was rounded to almost $340,000.

Events like the annual River Rally and the Cowboy Festival accumulated nearly 9,000 hours with more than 2,600 volunteers, pricing the value of volunteer hours at $250,000.

Beautification projects like trash pickup had more than 1,000 hours completed by 300 volunteers.

The total economic impact of volunteer hours was valued at $1.6 million, the annual report said.

“These numbers show that community members really contribute to our way of life,” said Simgen.

For example, she added, the city has volunteers in wheelchairs and some who carry oxygen tanks “but they still come up and volunteer. It’s heartwarming.”

While Simgen and another colleague manage the volunteer program, she said community centers also help direct the large volume of volunteers.

“As long as we maintain these numbers we are good and able to offer successful programs and events still,” Simgen said.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or to learn more on the annual report can visit santaclaritavolunteers.com.

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