Source: Parade magazine, 23 August 2009
Two new studies confirm that when times are tough, Americans pull together. A recent study from the Rand Corporation found that more people provided financial assistance than received it, with 30% of American households giving $500 or more to friends or family. Even among those who were struggling themselves, 29% came to the aid of others. The most frequent givers: parents. Likewise, a report from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) found that, despite financial difficulties, more people volunteered in 2008 than in 2007. Like the Rand study, the CNCS report said Americans are lending a hand close to home: 20 million people reported working with neighbors to solve a community problem, up from 15 million the year before.
Assistance from friends and family can have a profound psychological effect beyond the temporary impact of a few hundred dollars or a few hours of volunteerism. “The economic crisis has made us more aware of our own vulnerability,” said Robert Kenny, associate director of the Center for Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. “Just knowing someone is there for you can be as valuable as the assistance itself.
Contributor: J. Scott Orr