April is National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month

Volunteer collageVolunteerism is the cornerstone of our country.  So many companies and operations could not function without its share of volunteers. These volunteers may be the lifeblood of your business or the face they see when receiving service from your organization.  Whether you use a small or large amount of volunteers one thing is true – all volunteers passionately believe in the essential delivery of your organization’s service and are willing to carry out that mission without any expectation of pay.

What drives a volunteer?  Well, essentially people are looking to build stronger communities, tackle challenges and solve problems that affect the under-served population.  Whether a couple hours a week or month there is a sense of gratification in helping however they can to improving the quality of life for their fellow man, woman or child.  The sense of providing for others or paying it forward can be so strong that families empower their children and grandchildren with the spirit of volunteerism and how they can give even in their early years.

Volunteer History

Volunteers of America

The history of volunteerism goes back to the dawn of time but has never had a national focus of celebrating or recruiting the volunteer. One of the earliest organizations to foster volunteerism in America is “Volunteers of America” founded in 1896. The founders strongly believed in helping those in need by giving not only their time, but also their hearts, spirits and professional prosperity. (1)

Today Volunteers of America help over 1.3 million people nationwide and in Puerto Rico through programs that:

  • Deliver Meals on Wheels or provide other direct client services
  • Act as committee and advisory committee members or serve on local boards of directors
  • Provide administrative support such as answering phones, performing clerical work, research, facility maintenance, food or clothing collection, etc.
  • Recruit and manage other volunteers
  • Provide professional services (legal, public relations, training, motivational speaking)

Volunteers of America have utilized the services of over 60,000 volunteers in 2017 donating over 1.2 million hours of their time to serve their communities.  Most of their volunteers are age 18 to 54 followed by a significant amount youth volunteers under age 18 and over 10% being 55 or over. (1)  Their volunteers and services impact so many under-served, elderly, disabled and troubled people across the nation.  Hear their story below.

Points of Light

President Richard Nixon signed an executive order in 1974 to declare a National Volunteer Week to be celebrated each year in April to both honor and recruit volunteers to serve in various healthcare areas.  Since then the emphasis has been expanded to include the whole month and honor all those who willingly give of their time to volunteer in any capacity.

Then in 1989 President George H. W. Bush’s inaugural address he expressed his vision of a “thousand points of light,” inviting the nation to take action through service to their fellow citizens.  In 1990 President Bush established the Daily Point of Light Award for citing individuals making a difference.  During his administration he recognized 1,000 volunteers as his “points of light” demonstrating how “a neighbor can help a neighbor”. (2)

In response to President Bush’s call to action, the Points of Light Foundation was created as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service. The new nonprofit extends President Bush’s vision, understanding that “what government alone can do is limited, but the potential of the American people knows no limits.” (2)

We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light…We all have something to give.”

– President George H. W. Bush, 1989 inaugural address (2)

National Volunteer Week, powered by Points of Light (PoL), is an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to come together to tackle tough challenges, and build stronger, more resilient communities. Each year, PoL shines a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve, recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent and voice to make a difference in their communities.

If you know a “point of life” or an outstanding service-oriented organization you can nominate them on the PoL website – https://ww2.pointsoflight.org/nvw . They want to know what inspires and who inspires you during National Volunteer Week – April 15-21, 2018!

About Volunteerism in the USA

It’s a great honor and service if you choose to volunteer on a national or global level, looking to solve problems and challenges affecting a large amount of people, such as after national disasters or in war/conflict areas.  However, most people choose to volunteer for local organizations and businesses that affect their local communities. No matter if you are a volunteer or employ volunteers please set aside time to celebrate volunteers nationwide:

  • during the 2018 National Healthcare Volunteer Week, April 15-21
  • during all April for those volunteering for any organization
  • encourage others to give of their time and talent for a service for which they might have a passion or skill

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimates 62.6 million volunteered for or through an organization during 2015. (3)  Women volunteered more than men with age group 45-54 contributing the most volunteer hours.  The top businesses or organizations where people volunteered are (highest to lowest)(4):

 

Bureau of Labor Statistics Volunteer by Organization Type

  • Religious
  • Education or Youth Activities
  • Social or Community Services
  • Hospital or Health Services
  • Other Services
  • Civic, Political or International Services
  • Sport, Hobby or Cultural Services
  • Environmental or Animal Services
  • Undetermined Services
  • Public Safety Services

According to the Huffington Post, Benjamin Franklin, one of the most famous early Americans, is also known as the Founding Father of American volunteerism. He gathered volunteers to sweep the streets of Philadelphia, organized the nation’s first volunteer fire department, established a voluntary militia and organized a philosophical society. His philosophy was “one served not to save their soul, but to build a strong society.” In our modern day society, volunteering still forms the core of the American character. It is who we are and how we pass caring and freedom to the next generation. And it looks like our younger generations are getting the message because they are now volunteering at the same rate as those who are retired. If our kids can convince their friends and neighbors through social media that to help others is in a sense helping ourselves, we can continue to be the most charitable nation, just like our forefathers. (5)

Become a Volunteer!

If you currently volunteer your time and talent we here at Hall of Care applaud you for your service!

Meals on Wheels VolunteerVolunteers come in all shapes and sizes, ages, races and abilities! They usually choose a cause that is near and dear to their life, some place where they feel they can make a difference. It’s gratifying to know you can help bring change or provide support for those who are suffering in times of need. From volunteers who staff rural fire departments to those serving food at local soup kitchens to those helping find shelter for hurricane victims, there is no shortage for volunteers. And the best thing is you can volunteer as you have time, from a couple hours per month to a couple hours per week.

If you haven’t decided where to begin, start by looking at your training, education or talents that could help an organization or business. This might be helpful with public outreach or a group looking for project design options, constructing something, helping run a blood pressure or health clinic for seniors, teaching others computer or technology skills, cooking various food dishes, helping your local civic organizations in public outreach campaigns. etc.

You can also look at your hobbies and skills that can be taught or benefit others such as teaching woodworking or making items for donation, teaching others to knit or crochet or make these items for donation, teach a gardening class or help maintain a garden for an organization, sculpting or ceramic work classes or items to donate, teach or conduct hiking or nature outings, etc.

You can also do something completely different such as washing dishes at your local senior or recreation center, help deliver meals to seniors at home (Meals on Wheels), mow lawns, perform basic maintenance for the elderly, disabled or shut-ins, type up correspondence, letters or mail outreach materials, split wood for seniors, organize a recycling center, etc.

I volunteered for a couple years with our local Meals on Wheels program while I was at home with our girls.  It was very rewarding and gratifying to know I was helping all those seniors get a good nutritious meal, some of them being their only meal for the day.  I left them to train as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) where I can also make an impact on people’s health each day.  Now I also offer any help I can along with product aids to help people accomplish common daily tasks via this website.

My wife worked for several years abroad with the American Red Cross providing support to servicemen and their spouses while I served in the Armed Forces.  Now she is disabled and cannot get out much.  She crochets all kinds of hats and shawls for a local Crochet for Cancer organization who donates these items to those suffering the effects of cancer treatments in our area.

Thank Those Who Volunteer

If you know someone who volunteers, please thank them for their valuable service!  If a family member provides care for you or another loved one without pay they are a volunteer too, and there are over 43 million of those volunteers each year.  Remember to thank them with some words of gratitude and perhaps even a small gift of appreciation.

Thank you

We are definitely thankful for all those who volunteer in making another person’s life better, especially those that have touched my family’s lives! Consider volunteering your time to a worthy cause even if it is just a couple hours a month or week.  You definitely can make a difference and help solve some of your communities challenges!

 

 

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