Volunteerism among homeless persons with developmental disabilities

Morton LG 2nd, Cunningham-Williams RM, Gardiner G.  School of Social Work, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197, USA. LMortoni@emich.edu.  J Soc Work Disabil Rehabil. 2010;9(1):12-26. doi: 10.1080/15367100903526070.

People with developmental disabilities have been historically excluded from mainstream society. Using the strength-based perspective, volunteerism was explored among homeless persons with self-reported developmental disabilities. It was hypothesized that volunteerism would be associated with indicators of healthy community integration. This would include volunteerism associated with unemployment due to disposable time and desire to gain job-related skills. Nearly half volunteered (n = 29), were older, visited friends or family monthly, and reported employment status that was associated with volunteerism. Logistic regression indicated that visiting with friends or family monthly increased volunteering, but unemployment decreased volunteering. Volunteerism might be a way “to give back” to agencies assisting them. Similarly, visiting family or friends suggests maintenance of social and community ties, suggesting healthy community integration.