International Volunteer Day

by Warren L. Maye

Satisfaction is one of those elusive feelings that, when realized, can make even the hardest work or the longest day seem well worth the effort. Money can’t buy that emotional experience, and people can’t give it to us. It must come from within.

Co–authors Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson believe volunteering to a worthy cause brings deep gratification and fulfillment. In a recent article entitled “Volunteering and its surprising benefits,” they wrote, “The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.” Segal and Robinson say that volunteering can shield your mental health from the pitfalls of rumination, depression, and loneliness.

Volunteerism is at the essence of what The Salvation Army is all about. In 1887, Founder William Booth responded to the challenges of his day when he said to his son Bramwell, “We must do something!” Booth’s imperative, which has been passed along to succeeding generations, led to the formation of many outstanding models for social service, disaster relief, and emotional and spiritual care programs. These ministries continue to attract tens of thousands of volunteers in countries around the globe.

According to The Salvation Army, last year almost 1.3 million people of all ages and walks of life volunteered their time, talents, and resources to assist in the Army’s work. “Our volunteers are critical partners in helping us fulfill our promise to America of ‘Doing the Most Good,’ ” says a statement on its national website.

Experts say that volunteerism also attracts people of exceptional character and sense of purpose. For Rosterfy, a global volunteer management agency, Alice Turnbull wrote a blog post called “What makes a good volunteer?” in which she lists 10 qualities that stand out among people who successfully volunteer. She says such people tend to be passionate, reliable, cooperative, patient, creative, energetic, positive, willing, compassionate, and organized. 

An annual observance

Every year since 1985, the United Nations Volunteers Program has coordinated International Volunteer Day on Dec. 5. That is because “Volunteerism is one of the most vital delivery mechanisms for social, environmental and economic transformation, ensuring a lasting impact with its ability to change people’s mindsets, attitudes and behaviours,” according to a U.N. document. The purpose of this holiday is to heighten awareness of the need for volunteerism and to recruit as many people as possible to do something to help transform their communities.

The observance provides a myriad of opportunities for civic groups, government agencies, corporations, nonprofits, academic institutions, and individuals to take constructive action that will lead to stronger communities and nations.

One volunteer in the USA Eastern Territory said recently regarding her work with homeless people in Maine, “God has given me a heart for them. I feel it’s scriptural to be kind to people who are poor, immigrants, and homeless. It’s scriptural to give them a cup of water, that kind of thing. I find them grateful and they’re polite to me. It satisfies me. It makes my heart happy.”

1 billion people volunteer worldwide.* Join them on December 5!

*TeamStage “Volunteering Statistics for 2023: How Charitable Are We?”

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