SANTA ROSA – The city of Santa Rosa ranked first in the state in volunteerism, according to a recent report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, with 38.7 percent of residents contributing an estimated $414.8 million in services to the community every year since 2005.

“This is wonderful but not surprising news to us,” said Eunice Valentine, executive director for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa. “Since we opened our doors 40 years ago, we have seen a steady increase in the number of people sharing their time and talents by giving back to those in our community who are less fortunate.”

The 146,300 volunteering Santa Rosans bested the national average of 26.5 percent, according to the study.

In California, there are 6.8 million volunteers that collectively represent 24.2 percent of residents who give 935 million hours of service, amounting to $19.5 billion of donated services, the study said.

The report also said an increase in volunteerism has been a nationwide trend recently, with the number of people volunteering up by 1.6 million last year – the largest increase in six years. Nationally, 63.4 million people ages 16 and up volunteered in 2009, providing more than 8.1 billion hours of service worth approximately $116.9 billion, the study said.

“What we’re seeing in Santa Rosa is community spirit and generosity at its best,” Ms. Valentine said. “People are rolling their sleeves up and working together to create solutions to our toughest problems, from homelessness and hunger to the dropout crisis."

Ms. Valentine said volunteering is both a way to “build strong communities” and beneficial to those who volunteer, providing a sense of purpose and satisfaction.