Parade Magazine: Compassion Counts More Than Ever, a new study by Michael Berland

Compassion Counts More Than Ever
By Michael J. Berland
Published: March 7, 2010

America is in the midst of a boom–and one that is benefiting and bonding us all. “During past tough economic times, there was a decrease in volunteering,” says Patrick Corvington, CEO of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. “But today there’s a ‘compassion boom’ of people helping others.” An exclusive new PARADE poll shows how and why so many Americans are working to improve our communities and the world.

“Public service” has become more than a phrase or a school requirement in our country–it’s now a way of life for Americans of all ages. “People who are out of work are volunteering to stay connected to their communities and to hone their job skills,” Corvington explains. “But I think part of what is driving the overall increase is the growing understanding that service is an essential tool to achieve community and national goals.”

The findings of the new PARADE poll confirm Corvington’s observations: Respondents were almost unanimous in the belief that it is “important to be personally involved in supporting a cause we believe in” in our communities (94%) and in the world at large (91%). More than three out of four (78%) think that the actions of one person can improve the world, and 78% also believe they’re more involved in making a difference than their parents were.

The Americans surveyed by PARADE are particularly proud of one very personal way that they’re contributing to the greater good: Ninety percent said that they are working hard to teach their children the importance of activism. They’re imparting these lessons in a variety of ways, including leading by example (64%); talking to their kids about important issues and causes (51%); discussing their own charitable contributions or efforts with their children (35%); taking them to meetings or when they volunteer (32%); urging them to follow role models who are working for positive change (31%); and encouraging them to donate their own money to causes (25%).

Jack Brannelly, 45, an attorney in Draper, Utah, brings his 9-year-old daughter when he volunteers at an elder-care facility. “To put her hand in the hand of a 95-year-old at the end of her life teaches my daughter about the people out of the public view who still need affection,” he says. “This heart-to-heart contact teaches her one of the most important things we can do despite our busy lives. ”

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