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In almost every community there are a wide range of agencies which seek to address what are commonly understand to be "the needs of the community." Activities range from caring for the environment to ongoing assistance to those with various disabilities to the more temporary needs for food, shelter, and housing for those whose lives may be in transition due to job loss or change or change in marital status. Yet in spite of the commitment of the dedicated people associated with these agencies, most agency directors and community leaders agree that the needs usually outstrip available resources.

To fill this gap two things will need to happen. First of all, community needs must be more accurately identified so that the most pressing needs are adequately addressed. Having done this, agencies will then need to find more effective ways to recruit and utilize volunteers to assist in meeting these and other needs.

Currently the majority of volunteers come from community service .programs linked to churches, synagogues, and service groups such as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, 4-H, the Lions Club and so on. Programs initiated by these groups have generally had a positive impact on both those who provide the service and those who receive it (Benson, 1991).