This week, April 6-12, is designated as National Volunteer Week, a program of Points of Light, with the theme of “Celebrate Service.” This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week, demonstrating the enduring importance of recognizing our country’s volunteers for their vital contributions. America has a time-honored tradition of volunteerism, as do our community and United Way.
Quoting Points of Light: “National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.”
I have been a fan of Points of Light for decades, as I have long recognized the value of volunteerism. Even more exciting was when, years ago, when I was director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County, we were recognized by them as a “Point of Light” because of our volunteer-based program.
Volunteering is a vital part of the fabric of our community and is the premiere donation of one’s personal time, talent, energy and vision. We celebrate and thank the thousands of people who volunteer to make our community a better place in which to live, learn, work, play and retire.
I believe that volunteering yields many rewards. The volunteer actions most generally provide a much-needed service to another individual, an organization, or a whole community. The second benefit lies in the satisfaction the volunteer feels as they give of themselves for the good of someone else. The third reality is one that excites me to write about today because I have always believed, and experienced first hand, that volunteer service teaches life skills, helps people connect, and can actually lead to gainful employment.
I read today of Points of Light announcing ServiceWorks, a public-private partnership powered by AmeriCorps, the Citi Foundation, and Points of Light. The initiative will engage 25,000 youth, age 16-24, in service and build a large-scale volunteer response to the crisis of low college and career attainment.