Perhaps it’s a reflection of our altruistic, vegan, Birkenstock-wearing population that Missoula this year topped the Peace Corps’ list of metropolitan areas with the highest number of volunteers per capita anywhere in the nation. According to data released by the Corps today, Missoula beat out other well-known peacenik havens such as second-ranked Burlington, Va., and third-place Boulder, Colo.
“We are proud of the contribution Montana residents make toward the Peace Corps mission of promoting world peace and friendship,” says the Peace Corps Regional Office Manager Janet Allen in a statement released today.
Montanans and, more specifically, Missoula residents are clearly an altruistic bunch. However, the impressive volunteer rate could very well reflect something other than selflessness. As anyone who’s hunted for the elusive well-paid Missoula job, this is a notoriously tough market. Against a backdrop of largely low-paying service-oriented gigs, the Peace Corps looks pretty good. The “volunteer” position offers significant financial perks including free travel, a monthly living stipend, health care and a $7,425 payment at the completion of 27 months of service.
Missoulians certainly care about helping communities in Guatemala, Sierra Leone and Albania. But I’m guessing dental care, student loan deferment and free airfare is fueling our peace-loving nature.