November 30, 2008 was an important day in Durham. Not only did DPAC, the Durham Performing Arts Center open, but a robust volunteer program launched, too. To date, The Durham Wayfinders program has donated time from citizens worth more than $1.000.000 - and that number is growing at a faster rate than ever.
The program began as an effort to offer passionate people a chance to help others enjoy Durham at festivals, events, and at venues, like DPAC. The world-renowned theater was integral in the program's inception.
"With Wayfinders, we created an outlet for interested people to easily register to help at events to provide visitors with excellent customer service," said Shelly Green, the CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau who administers the program. "It has taken on a life of its own and continues to amaze us with the level of engagement demonstrated by the volunteers. It has served as a model for other places to initiate similar programs," Green added.
Take Karen Burns as a shining example. Burns has volunteered more than 1400 hours at more than 500 events in her years as a Wayfinder. "I have met many interesting people and have fun participating at all the events and performances in Durham," she said. Burns has volunteered more hours than any other participant in the program. A total of 17 participants have each donated over 500 hours of time. Currently there are 2563 active participants in the program.
Through October, 2013 a total of 53,613 hours have been donated. According to Independent Sector, a leadership network for nonprofit organizations that, among other things, calculates the value of donated time, that time represents a significant value to Durham's stakeholders. The value of the time is $1,176,027.56. Hours for 2013 were calculated at the 2012 value because Independent Sector has not released its valuation of a volunteer hour for 2013 yet. Their chart is available online.