Between neighborliness and volunteerism: Participants in the strong communities initiative

Debbie Haski-Leventhal*, Asher Ben-Arieh, Gary B. Melton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Strong Communities initiative in the Upstate region of South Carolina strives to strengthen the community and prevent child maltreatment through the enhancement of neighborliness and volunteerism. During the first 5 years of the initiative, more than 4,500 volunteers contributed their time. Strong Communities has nurtured neighborly volunteers-residents whose community service could be characterized as being between formal agency-based volunteerism and pure neighborliness (good citizenship). Conducting a phone survey of a random sample of volunteers in Strong Communities and analyzing an existing database on the contributed service, we studied the volunteer's characteristics, attitudes, and perceptions. Volunteers in Strong Communities come from all parts of the community and include a high percentage of minorities. They have a strong psychological sense of neighborliness and commitment to their communities. The volunteers also expressed a high level of integration into Strong Communities in their knowledge, identity, ongoing activities, satisfaction, and attitudes. The Strong Communities initiative appears to be succeeding in making opportunities for neighborly action easily available in everyday life.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)150-161
Number of pages12
JournalFamily and Community Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Child maltreatment
  • Neighborliness
  • Strong communities
  • Volunteerism


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