Apr 11, 2023 - News

Metro Atlantans aren't the most helpful bunch, survey says

Illustration of a hand raising and turning into a heart.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Metro Atlantans might have a reputation for being polite to strangers. But we're less likely to lend a hand.

Driving the news: Metro Atlanta area ranked near the bottom of large U.S. metro areas surveyed on volunteerism and civic engagement by AmeriCorps, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why it matters: Community service helps others in need. Volunteering can improve your mental health, provide a sense of purpose and build support systems through social interaction, according to the Mayo Clinic.

By the numbers: Conducted during the height of the pandemic between September 2020 and 2021, the survey found that 19.6% of metro Atlantans volunteered through an organization.

Compare that to the top-ranked metro areas in the study: 29% of residents in Philadelphia volunteered and 58% of residents in Boston said they helped a neighbor.

Between the lines: Income, education level, citizenship and race play a role in civic engagement rankings, the Post reports.

  • For example, the metro areas near the top of the rankings have a larger white, non-Hispanic population than Atlanta and the other lower scorers. They also have greater median incomes.

What they're saying: "It comes down to time, money and civic skills," Mike Hanmer, director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, told the Post.

  • "And we know that those things are not evenly distributed throughout the population," he said. "Systematically, certain groups — particularly members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in our society — haven't had the same access and the same opportunities."

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