Charity Begins at Home


"Charity" by Van Dyck

There’s an old saying (proverb, popular expression) in English: “Charity begins at home.” Charity (giving to others, being kind to others) comes from the Latin caritas, meaning “love.”  “Charity begins at home” means that before you give to others, to strangers, you should first take care of your own family.

Here in Los Angeles, it appears we take this saying to the extreme (beyond what is normal or typical), giving all to ourselves and not much to those around us!  A recent report from the U.S. Government ranked (put in order, from top to bottom) the states and cities where people volunteer (give their time to others without being paid) the most and the least.  The number one city for volunteering was my hometown (the city where you were born), Minneapolis-St. Paul (well, technically, two cities – St. Paul is actually my hometown).  More than 40% of Minneapolitans and St. Paulites (people from the Twin Cities, also called Twin Citians) volunteer time to help others.  The second highest-ranking city is Salt Lake City, Utah.

Los Angeles was way down on the bottom of the list: 44th out of 51 large cities included in the report.  Only about 22% of Angelenos (people from Los Angeles) volunteer their time to help others.

Why the big difference? The report doesn’t include a lot of statistical analysis, but it does indicate that cities in the center of the US – neither the West nor East Coasts – have higher volunteer rates.  This may be due in part to at least three factors.  The first is education: Cities with more educated citizens (at least a high school diploma) have more volunteers.  The second is commuting time (how long it takes you to get from home to work and back).  Cities with longer commute times tend to have fewer volunteers.  Finally, cities where more people own their own homes have more volunteers.

Los Angeles is low on the list of all three of these factors.  We have a large number of people without a high school diploma (some immigrants, others born and raised here), long commute times, and relatively fewer people who own their own homes compared to other cities.

Many people believe that volunteering is the right thing to do morally and ethically, but there are also other benefits.  Volunteers tend to live longer and have less depression, even when we take into account (include in our analysis) things such as age, income, education, sex, and ethnicity.


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17 Responses to Charity Begins at Home

  1. Interesting news Jeff. Each day social differences has become high and volunteer work more important and necessary.

  2. emiliano says:

    Just I don´t know what to say as to me there are lots of volunteers in your country as a rule. But in your born city St. Paul-Mineapolis is really
    incredible to us spaniards, same as Salt Lake City.
    Has something to do with religion too?. People with some kind of religion do more for the others than people without it?.

    Here it isn´t easy to know volunteers, in fact I know two or three at least only, and generally they have something to do with the churches, not all
    of course.

    And I think it is true that volunteers may have longer lifes, more health and less depression because feeling us being useful to others is one
    of the best things we may have to be happy.
    Every day we learn a new thing, and this one about so many volunteers in your country is absolutly new to me. That´s make me see your nation and mine
    with other eyes.
    Thank you, Jeff it is a very interesting matter to think about.

  3. Julio says:

    Following Emiliano’s explaining, I think is very curious to observe how Americans, on an average basis, are very altruist people, in spite of the fact that you all, in general terms of course, are considerated as very selfish people, perhaps because of America’s stronger capitalist system.
    But, as we have been able to know today, it is an unfair cliché like so much others.
    Thankyou, Dr. Jeff, very interesting topic.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack)

  4. elcomandant says:

    In my view, Charity has to do with yourself. If someone has done a work about who give more charity, I suppose this work will have been serious.

    It seems logical enough that people more charitable are who have the three factors that says the recent report from the U.S. Government.

    Would be difficult that one person who need spend two hours to go to work, don’t be volunteer.

    Is easy to suppose that one person who must pay a mortgage and more probably has difficulties to pay your bills monthly, has more difficulties, too, to being more charitable than other persone who has your own home.

    Finally is obvious and is known enough that less education is not a good thing.

    Then, I would suggest to the U.S. Government, and of course all countries, too, that work more strongly to achieve that people belonging this group are less as be possible.

    Surely, the entire world would be a little better, not only about volunteer or charity, but in a lot other sides.

    Sadly this is very very difficult, but, we must try it.


  5. Rolf says:

    It’s amazing and encouraging to see, that so many people volunteer to care of others. Especially in times of crisis or hardship this gives us hope and confidence.
    Best Regards

    Rolf (Germany)

  6. Peter says:


    I guess, deeper must we dig.

    To me,the above observation is a skewed perception.

    Conducting civic duties (charity if you will) Has a direct relation with inflation. In the big cities Like Big Apple , The majority of people are shackled down with The high rate of inflation.The cost of living is very high in comparison with their monthly income,so
    they are lucky if they manage to just get by. When you are strapped financially you have not time ,and patience for all the charitty talks

  7. Peter says:


    It just struck me .What you are doing at EslPod is itself a kind of charity , ur charitable items are Knowledge and Experience.

  8. Peter says:

    No time ,nor patience

  9. emiliano says:

    Volunteer is giving our time to others without being paid. Time is the most valuable thing we have in life. People may have lot of money but
    not time.
    None of us can buy a minute of time when our hour of passing away has came.
    So, to give our time we don´t need to have lot of money, to be rich, or even to be middle class. It is only love to others what we need to have, and
    people with that kind of feeling do give their time to give care, to read a book to people that they can´t read, or push a wheelchair for a walk, or
    teach without being paid, or visit people that live alone, or go to the hospitals to see the olders or to give company at the persons in and so on.
    If we go to these houses where the olders are, so alone, we may see how much love they do need. They don´t need money, they need company
    care, and love.
    I think that´s the gift of being volunteer.

    Giving money is the less thing we can do if we have enough, but I would like to do or to feel that kind of love that move these volunteers
    to give their time or efforts without being paid, only receiving their own satisfaction.
    But, that´s very difficult of feeling when our culture doesn´t promote these actions, usually we are in home without knowing that around us there are so many
    people that only need help, love, care…, not money only our time.
    Here, in my country there are so few volunteers that I feel badly about this matter, so I am very surprised about what Jeff has told us about his country.

  10. Tania says:

    Hi ! Well done , Emiliano ! The same problems in my country , too . We do not learn about volunteer at school . We have to learn a lot of new and practical things from the Americans . They are the most advanced nation .

    All the best for you all ,


  11. Tania says:

    Hi , again ! Now I can see and the picture . Nice picture , Dr. Jeff . Thank you .


  12. Tania says:

    Hi ! Delightful travelling around the world all together with Dr. Jeff . Now I can praise that I visited Asia and South America . But where is Australia ?
    And our friends from Russia are very beautiful like their large and famous country , too .
    And our dear Emiliano ! We all can understand why you love so much your wife .
    Mrs. Cuca is a very nice lady . Greetings , Mrs. Cuca . I often enjoy to talk with Emiliano .

    All the best for you all ,


  13. emiliano says:

    Thank you Tania, your are really very nice. But is so evident that I am so mad about her?.
    I know I am, but may be a little weird to show it so clear.
    Here in the blog I think we know everyone quite well because we write with open mind and warm heart, so I don´t mind to say she is the best
    mate I could have ever.
    Every place I go or everything I do, she is always with me because is inside my mind, that´s evident to the friends who know me well, but also

    Cuca asked me, where are you Tania from, I know you told me before but my memories are so bad sometimes and I want to tell her with certainty.

    Let me guess despite you told before, and forgive me if I get wrong……..Rumania?…. Best wishes.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi ! You are right , Emiliano . I am from Roumania and I try to learn English . I try to find an answer for every topic as in this way I can learn new words . And … I must recognize : I like very much the challenges in a warmharted and nurturing manner . And I think the ESLPOD team and our new pen friends are the best place from the world .

    All the best for you all ,


  15. Tania says:

    Hi , again ! A nightmare , Dr. Jeff . With serial killers , with mashed heads , a lot of blood … and
    ” The Misfit shoots her and says : she would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life ” .
    We enjoyed indeed reading Flannery O’ Connor on Google this week-end .
    We forgive you as this American great writer died on August 3 , 1964 .

    Don’t be so modest , Dr. Jeff . We wish you to manage your team at least like Larry King from CNN channel . He is 70 .

    All the best for you all ,


  16. Bruce Lee says:

    Regarding the volunteering,
    When I was a student in university, I had experienced Sunday school teacher in Catholic church.
    As you mentioned, volunteering is a kind of activity that people give their time to help others who might be in poverty or disabled.

    This experience gave me not only great pleasure but also serious pain at that time.
    As I spent three days a week preparing educational materials for children,
    It was hard for me to prepare for the test to admit into good company.

    Eventually thru. this experience, I could get an opportunity to make good relationship with my collegues
    & the way of teaching someone.

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