“International Volunteer Day is a chance to thank the many individuals who act with this spirit of giving, and to encourage others to follow their example. When an earthquake destroys homes, volunteers prove that human solidarity is shatterproof…” UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon
This year’s theme,“Make Change Happen,Volunteer!”, emphasizes how volunteerism can advance sustainable development by fostering participation, building social cohesion, and promoting dialogue within communities. Volunteerism also acts as a catalyst for civic engagement and social inclusion. Helen Clark, Senior Administrator, UNDP
What is IVD 2014? Today is International Volunteer Day (IVD) and it is the perfect time to applaud the efforts of all those people; ordinary folks like you and me, 6,300 UN Volunteers, and the 11,000 UN Online Volunteers who sacrifice time, money, skills and energy to help their fellow men and women. If you volunteer locally in your community or elsewhere, this is the day to give yourself a special pat on the back and to start thinking of how to get more people involved in doing the work. Quite often, people want to help and don’t know how to participate or celebrate the efforts of those who make time to volunteer.
This year’s theme for IVD is “Make Change Happen,Volunteer!” and it is the perfect call to action for all of us. If you belong to that category of compassionate people who’d like to help but need some motivation or ways to help, here are 10 suggestions to the question: How can I participate in volunteer work or celebrate the efforts of volunteers in my area?
You can create/collaborate/participate in a variety of organized activities such as:
(1) You can help organize a march or rally to bring attention to those in need in your area. You can also organize a group to collaborate with/visit marginalized communities to offer some assistance. Habitat For Humanity goes to poor areas to hep build homes so this is another way to help.
(2) You can join a clean up crew to beautify your neighborhood and plant a food garden or flowers. If your area has suffered an attack by looters (like in Ferguson after the verdict) and personal property is at risk or destroyed, volunteers can come together to rebuild and safeguard community treasures. You can also participate in helping people to lift themselves out of poverty by providing them with information on available resources and alerting social services to help those who feel too down to ask.
(3) You can arrange a friendly competitive event with neighbors or neighboring towns. It could include a Sports event, a cultural food festival and even a creative exhibition of local street artists, photographers, kids drawings, and personal stories.
(4) You can also help organize a Volunteer Fair, a health fair or a blood drive in your community. The Ebola crisis has been a lesson to all of us of the power of brave volunteerism; doctors, healthcare workers and nurses risk their lives daily to work with the sick. They deserve recognition. The great thing about organizing a fair that is so specific, is that organizations that need volunteers will gladly join in to share information and get people to register to help. At the same time, people can be invited to make a donation to causes which would help too because some people can’t volunteer or don’t have time to do so.
(5) Social media is a powerful force to reckon with these days, and it is a great and direct way to connect with others and get them involved. You can participate in an online volunteers drive to coordinate an IVD Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram event. We are familiar with Tweetathons that engage online volunteers through the use of shared hashtags and re-tweets on the same day. As bloggers, our various blogging platforms; WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and many others are also great channels for sharing information and raising awareness. What tips can you recommend to help others to participate in building a strong volunteer community?
“The humane impulse to assist and empower others that motivates volunteers rebounds back to them in the form of an enriched life. Volunteers offer life skills while expanding their own know-how; they empower communities while earning a sense of personal fulfilment at having made a difference in our world.” When looters aim for cultural property, volunteers safeguard community treasures. When development is lagging, volunteers help enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.”UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon
This year’s International Volunteer Day takes on special significance as the United Nations prepares to shape a new vision for sustainable development and a new universal climate agreement, both to be adopted next year. I thank the more than 6,300 UN Volunteers and 11,000 UN Online Volunteers who helped millions of people to make change happen by giving them a voice in sustainable development and peace efforts across the globe.UN Sec General Mr. Ban Ki-moon
(6) One thing we sometimes forget is to celebrate the efforts of our volunteers. You can organize a celebratory event to acknowledge the devotion of local people, by handing out certificates and Awards to people in your area. There are many ways to celebrate them and with some creativity, much can be achieved.
(7) There are many organizations that would be happy to participate in a forum discussion, an interview, or a showcase of their work. Pick one of you favorite organizations to talk about their experience with offline/online volunteering.
(8)Fundraising for a local volunteer organization is always appreciated and very easy to do. A few phone calls will open many door to groups that would appreciate the fundraising help; you could help with mailing, phone calls, creative graphic designs or hands-on help. You could even create a special announcement for IVD.
(9) As bloggers, we write about a wide range of subjects; You can feature stories from local volunteers or from volunteers in countries who have supported initiatives in your area.
(10) One very important way to help, especially if you have the skills, is to offer Workshops about volunteer activities, how to write and make Speeches, conduct interviews or connect with and recruit new and old volunteers
We all know the psychic/intrinsic rewards we receive when we help people in need. We also know that everyone isn’t able to help. Some have health issues or major time constraints. Nevertheless, we can all chip in and help in ways that work best for each of us. I’ve provided some recommended ways to help and added a few more of my own. What else would you suggest to people who wish to learn more and participate in building a strong volunteer group in their community? You can start small by volunteering, learning the ropes, and then spreading your wings. Happy Holidays!
This post was inspired by Daily Prompt. Weekly Writing Challenge: COUNTDOWN Everybody loves (or at least loves to hate) a list. This is especially true around the end of the year, when our inclination to rank things and to build coherent narratives out of the chaos of loosely related events goes into overdrive. I look forward to reading your posts in 10, 9, 8, 7…
Positive Motivation Tip: Find time to build a bucket list of things you can do to help others. You’ll be the richer for it. Happy Holidays!