Although Disneyland is often referred to as the Happiest Place on Earth, a recent poll seems to disagree and says a small town in the economically hard-hit state of Michigan is actually one of the happiest in the country – due in part to its citizens’ philanthropic efforts.
The 2009 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the tiny town of Holland, Michigan ranks second on the list of all U.S. cities – sandwiched between Boulder, Colorado and Honolulu, Hawaii. While Holland – about 30 miles west of Grand Rapids – might not have the lush landscape or snowcapped mountains, an ABC News report indicates that the area’s propensity to give back might be what makes it so happy.
The news organization points out that a report of the Chronicle of Philanthropy recently named the region of Western Michigan – in which Holland is located – as the No. 2 most generous area in the U.S., behind only Salt Lake City, Utah.
Linda Jacobs, executive director of Good Samaritan Ministries, told ABC News that even with a 16 percent unemployment rate, the city has more than 100 service organizations which rely heavily on volunteers.
Katie Bell, partner at Global Well-Being for Gallup, said the poll shows that communities that rank high can see positive results in many ways.
"For leaders, the well-being of the residents in their respective cities, states and communities matters on many levels, with potential impact for economic development, law and order, and community pride and purpose," she said.
The philanthropic nature of Holland appears to not only be limited to its citizens as a report late last year showed that some Holland-based businesses gave back to the community often.
According to a December 2009 report from the Michigan Business Review, Fleetwood Group donated $956,073.21 last year, or $6,208.27 for each of the company’s 154 employees.