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  • chrisbelcher67

San Antonio Volunteers' Impact

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Organizations across metropolitan San Antonio cancelled their activities and volunteer opportunities this weekend because of rain.

Monday dawned wet and cold. The rain is forecasted to stick around for most of this week leading organizations to potentially cancel events they would normally hold outdoors.

We normally volunteer on the weekend and during the week to help remove litter and invasive species from San Antonio’s urban environment.

Right now, we could be walking down wet, muddy trails stomping through puddles watching rain drip from the tree leaves. We could be standing at the window watching rain fall from the sky and splashing in the bird bath.

Instead, we’re using this as an opportunity to reflect on the importance and impact of San Antonio’s volunteers. Volunteers are a key to improving San Antonio’s environment whether they’re volunteering for a government organization or a non-profit.

Clay Thompson, Green Spaces Alliance said, “I know personally I have hundreds of acres of land that need restoration work and there is no money to do it. Volunteers are the way that we make that work. Volunteers that want to come out and cut trees or take China berries out like the Salsa Squad does. That work doesn't get done without volunteers. There's not enough tax dollars out there to do all that restoration, to do all that management, to do all that cleanup. If you don't have the volunteers and that's one of the great things in San Antonio is we do have a volunteerism spirit.”

Clay is right about San Antonian’s volunteer spirit.

SA2020 in it’s ‘2021 Nonprofit Partner Impact Report” stated, “In the last year, 22,171 volunteers served upwards of 599,470 hours, producing an added value of more than $16.8 million to the nonprofit sector and, therefore, San Antonio’s economy.”

The impact of over 22,000 volunteers can be measured in more than just time and money.

River Aid San Antonio is a non-profit that focuses of the San Antonio River watershed. Volunteers give their time to remove litter from creeks and the river as well as removing invasive species. River Aid’s volunteers removed over 37,000 pounds of litter from the San Antonio River watershed in 2021. Its goal was to double the amount of litter removed from the watershed in 2022.

River Aid San Antonio volunteers pick up litter from Salado Creek August 6. Litter Clean Ups like this one can remove well over a thousand pounds of litter from the San Antonio River watershed. Photo: Chris Belcher

Meals on Wheels, a non-profit dedicated to making sure seniors are fed, delivered over 1 million meals in 2021. The Meals on Wheels volunteers helped provide services to over 6,000 seniors in San Antonio last year.

These are just a couple of examples of the impact of volunteers in San Antonio. But, volunteering does more than just help the environment or San Antonians in need. It provides the volunteer with a connection to their community, the environment, and a group of like-minded San Antonians.

We’ve met people from all walks of life in the creeks of San Antonio picking up trash. We’ve seen parts of our city that we hadn’t thought to explore. We’ve developed a connection to San Antonio’s environment that didn’t exist before our volunteer work.

While San Antonio’s volunteers have a positive impact in our city more can be accomplished. If you’re not currently volunteering, consider giving a little bit of your time. As Charlie Blank, River Aid San Antonio says about picking up litter, “Make it out for even just 30 minutes and you will see the impact we can achieve!”

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