About Us




Volunteering and volunteerism are integral to society and institutions in the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville noted in Democracy in America what he saw as a uniquely American bent toward establishing associations. “. . .as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea. . . they seek each other out and. . . become a power whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded.” Volunteers and volunteer organizations established hospitals, chartered schools, founded social service organizations (including Benjamin Rose), and so on. Secular or spiritual, fraternal or philanthropic, a system of safety net programs, education, civic advocacy and athletics grew out of the efforts of volunteers. For de Tocqueville, these associations and philanthropic endeavors, rather than the largesse of the nobility, provided the foundation and the strength of a democratic society.

The US Census Bureau estimated that more than 60 million adults volunteered more than 4.1 billion hours of their time in their communities in 2021. That equates to $130.4 billion in donated time and talent invested in communities.

Volunteers prepare and deliver meals, tutor students in area grade schools, coach in youth sports leagues and raise money for charitable causes. They are tour guides, friendly visitors, tech support and thousands of other roles. There is no doubt about the value of their contributions to organizations and the people they serve. And there are multiple studies that show the benefits of volunteering: better health and wellbeing, and a strengthened sense of purpose and self-worth.

Volunteerism also enhances life, work and community beyond the volunteers’ roles. The experience of volunteering, the knowledge and insights gained, and the connections made with others have benefits beyond the task completed, or the mission served.

I first met Bill Hartz when I was in junior high. Bill’s day job was as an industrial engineer for General Electric. But he was also a fan of track and field. He volunteered at track and cross country meets in my hometown, anything from middle school meets to AAU and NCAA events. He loved the sport. Among his prized possessions were pins from the Olympics in 1984 and 1996. His motivation to complete rehab on a total knee replacement was to be able to attend the Atlanta games. He was in the stadium for Carl Lewis’ gold medal in the long jump. His perspective working with athletes at all levels of the sport, understanding the rules and the regulatory bodies that sanctioned events, went beyond the track. He fired the starter’s pistol in one of the first races I ran in high school. Years later I worked with him on United Way campaigns and Red Cross disaster relief efforts. He imparted a sense of fair play and optimism in everything he did.

Hugh Baker was a lifelong Hoosier and, among other things, a fan of open-wheeled racing. Like many large-scale events, the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing League require a lot of volunteer staff. Over years of involvement with the sport, he became a track observer. He knew the teams, the drivers and the track. Hugh was a natural salesman and fundraiser and held many leadership roles in civic and community organizations as well as his church. One result of his overlapping areas of interest was the development of a helmet-safety promotion that was part of the race week events in every city on the Indy Car circuit. I have a well-worn ballcap from one of those race weekends. I think of Hugh anytime I wear it.

If you have attended an event at Playhouse Square, you have no doubt encountered the RedCoats, an army of volunteers in red jackets who assist with ushering, ticketing and wayfinding in the complex of theaters on Euclid Avenue. They are as much a part of the Playhouse experience as the beautifully restored theaters and the world-class performances that take place there. One of the benefits of volunteering as a RedCoat is being able to see the performances. One of our employees here at Benjamin Rose is also a long-time volunteer at Playhouse Square. She is also a great resource for recommendations about events at the theaters. Other members of our staff participate in community theater and arts programs, as stagehands, techs and performers. Those experiences extend well beyond the events themselves. The circles of friendships and shared interests, the exposure to different tastes in music, literature and the arts broaden our awareness, enhance our work and strengthen our engagement with the community.

As a nonprofit community organization, Benjamin Rose relies on many volunteers to fulfill our mission. Volunteers help deliver meals, offer programming at Rose Centers and other community venues. They teach classes. They reduce social isolation through reassurance calls and friendly visits to clients who are homebound. They serve on our boards and advisory committees. Volunteers provide help and help make our work possible. And, that experience can also be a benefit to the larger community where they live and work and play.

To learn more about volunteering for Benjamin Rose, visit our website: https://www.benrose.org/ volunteer