Celebrating National Volunteer Week

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Yesterday marked the beginning of National Volunteer Week, an annual celebration in the United Sates and Canada that aims to inspire and encourage individuals to engage with their communities through acts of local volunteerism. Organized since 1974 by the Points of Light Institute, the world’s largest volunteer organization which was created by President George H. W. Bush, NVM connects millions of people to local and nationalopportunities to give back and foster a lasting culture of service.
 
NVM was actually first conceptualized in Canada in 1943, as a means of celebrating the contribution of women to the war effort. The idea slowly declined in popularity following the end of World War II, but was reignited and reinstated in the 1960s.

​In the United States, President Richard Nixon formalized recognition of NVM through Presidential Proclamation 4288 in 1974 and the holiday has since been marked by a new proclamation each year since its inception. Additionally, the President’s Volunteer Service Award is presented annually during NVM by organizations to those volunteers who have completed their 500+ hours of adult community service, 250+ hours of young adult community service, or 100+ hours of children’s community service.
 
Not only is volunteering beneficial to the community, but it’s also good for you! Volunteering provides individuals with such psychological benefits as an increased sense of satisfaction and an improved sense of belonging, as well as physical benefits like decreased blood pressure.
 
In Days of Grace, Arthur Ashe builds upon these benefits to note the personal gratification that comes from service, saying that, “I am not driven by an obsession to scratch my name indelibly on the pages of history. The years pass, and the world forgets the efforts of virtually all individual men and women of goodwill. And yet those efforts are not necessarily in vain because they are forgotten. They may bear fruit in myriad unrecognized ways, small but potent—in one life helped here, in a single future brightened there. I know I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without humane purpose, without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that perhaps the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others.”
 
Check out the following websites to find opportunities to get involved in your community:

  • http://www.pointsoflight.org
  • http://www.serve.gov
  • http://www.redcross.org/support/volunteer/national-volunteer-week

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