Posted 4/17/2007 by Mary Lynn Perry, Volunteer Coordinator, City of Sacramento, Sacramento, CA USA
I do appreciate what the POLF is doing and hope it will continue to offer other services and opportunities. I think the Volunteer Canada site is great and offers a web banner that anyone can use. I'd like to see us be able to do that through POLF so we can put those sorts of graphics on our own web sites. I also like the idea of the ecards which Canada offers and the volunteer certificates that the UK offers through their web site as well. Hope those can be done in the future through POLF.
Posted 4/23/2006 by Ann D'Antoni
Why is it the "nation's" responsibility to celebrate National Volunteer Week?
I know every year Volunteer Week is in April so when I am setting up my
calendar for the year I look online (very easily I might add) and find this
year's date. I then begin making my arrangements for recognition. Other
national recognition days shift their exact date from year to year, due to
holidays. I don't see this as the tragedy people are making this out to be.
My career doesn't even have a formal recognition day, that's ok, I get a
I make sure we have a nice luncheon, have posters displayed to remind folks
to remember their volunteers, purchase gifts and have a special recognition
for those volunteers who go well beyond what anyone would ask. We even
instituted a volunteer of the month program to recognize volunteers all year
long. I don't think my volunteers need a Hallmark card to know we all care
and thank them for what they do. They need us to say the words!
Submitted by Anthony Sciales, Director of Community Relations, K2Bh.com, Midcoast region, Maine
As a member of the media, I would like to say that "National Volunteer Week" makes for good copy if we get it. I can go one step more. I write a weekly column on volunteerism for this Internet news and information service dealing with 26 communities. I never saw an e-mail about the event. For budget constrained organizations, I would advise sending e-mail notices for a couple of weeks prior to the event to build up interest and knowledge -- don't tell us a couple of days ahead of time. I'm actually going to fill with copy I find on this and other sites. I agree with some of the things Rita Wiersma said. The national offices have to help out. But locals should do a better job of scouting around to see what opportunities exist. Again, from my own experience, I asked people and organizations to submit a name for volunteer of the week (with the winner getting a gift certificate for lunch). Only two responses trickled in. So, I stopped asking.
Submitted by Gerald (Jerry ) Pannozzo, CVA, Director of Volunteer Services, Rivington House Health Care Facility, New York, USA
My personal philosophy--tend to your own garden. Therefore, I endorse volunteer managers/agencies recognizing volunteer during National Volunteer Week. I look to AVA and Leadership Magazine (POLF) to identify the dates each year. I promote/market it among staff. We have a lovely dinner in our staff cafeteria. Volunteers are encouraged to invite a guest (one person talks about volunteering to another person, that person talks to another person, etc.), staff are invited, and the administrator attends.
This year, we have a guest speaker. Locally we have reaped the benefits of a dedicated group, NYC/IYV Committee. On April 17th a special section on volunteering was included in The New York Times and the NYC/IYV Banners went up city-wide. What is it going to take to get Hallmark Cards interested? Profit! Currently a variety of companies provide cards, gifts, etc. Those companies are similar to us--all over the map. We're in healthcare, museums, sports, environmental causes, social services, cultural institutions, volunteer centers, faith based communities, etc. The glass is half full--we are wonderfully diverse. The galss is half empty--we are split. AVA and IAVE are international. I think of POLF as national; however, they don't represent the places I've worked. The national healthcare association doesn't represent me--my affiliation is local / state (national dues are too expensive). I don't belong to a national organization advocating with regard to this month's topic!
Perhaps the cross pollination that is happening during IYV (like in NYC and via the internet) will lead to more effective partnering. Then Hallmark will discover--there is a "profit" to be made! And we'll be prepared to share with them the "value" of volunteering.
Submitted by Donna Salin, Assistant Director, Volunteer Resource Center, Kimball Medical Center, Lakewood, New Jersey
I agree that National Volunteer Week does not get the full attention (nationally) that it deserves. Wouldn't it be nice (as a volunteer) to donate your time, talent and energy and know what good company you are in. Why is this not newsworthy enough to make the headlines? As an agency that utilizes (and recognizes) volunteers, we use National Volunteer Week to celebrate the contributions our volunteers make to our organization and to gain recognition and appreciation from staff members. What is missing from National Volunteer Week is the national (and perhaps global) appreciation of the positive impact volunteerism makes every day! It will take more than local DOVIAS to bring this to the attention of every citizen. This needs to be an effort that starts at the top and gets disseminated down the organizational chart. We'll need more than a proclamation from President Bush applauding the efforts of volunteers nation-wide. We need good national press and lots of it!
Submitted by Audray Landrum, Program Manager , Texas
It just took me over an hour...... and I'm pretty internet savvy, to find the theme and logo for our NATIONAL Volunteer Week! All the focus is on the International Year of Volunteers and that's nice, but gracious! Why is our week in this country buried so deep or non-existent? AND, why are the websites for Volunteer Weeks '99 & 2000 still posted? That really doesn't convey the message that we'd prefer as volunteer managers......
Submitted by Paula Diehl, Director, Membership Services, Indianapolis Ambassadors, Indiana
I belong to an Organization in the Indianapolis Area that's main purpose is to support the growth and development of the city through volunteerism. This week, we have been fortunate to receive some accolades from various Non Profit organizations that have benefited from our help. But, it is true that it has not been a huge push to receive credit where credit is due. THANK YOU to all of you out there who give of your time, elbow grease and sometimes own money to help others. We are all better for it!
Submitted by Norma S. Gindes, Director , Voluntary Initiatives, New York State, USA
I am pleased to report that Directors of Volunteer Services in health care in New York City care. These individuals who manage large and small volunteer programs in hospitals and nursing homes throughout the five boroughs are using National Volunteer Week to recognize and honor their incredible volunteers. I know this because as the Director of Voluntary Initiatives at the United Hospital Fund, a health services research and philanthropic organizations whose mission is to shape positive change in health care, I have been invited, along with our volunteer leaders, to speak at many volunteer recognition ceremonies in New York City. The ceremonies may not all take place the week of April 22 to 28, but the spirit of recognizing the unusual contribution that volunteers make to health care in this city is in the air in Spring 2001.
The United Hospital Fund, which represents the 50,000 health care volunteers in New York City, also held its annual Hospital Auxilian and Volunteer Achievement Award ceremony on April 2 at the Waldorf Astoria where 94 outstanding hospital auxilians and volunteers were honored from 53 New York City hospitals. The theme for the event attended by over 900 people was "Celebrating the International Year of Volunteers" and Mrs. Nane Annan, wife of the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, offered her comments on this celebratory year. It was a special afternoon that highlighted the contribution of health care volunteers and brought attention to importance of the global IYV celebration. It also set the stage for the beginning of a series of volunteer recognition events for health care volunteers throughout the city.
Submitted by Brian Hartzell, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House, Mobile, AL USA
During more than 20 years with the Ronald McDonald House program, I have encouraged the observance of National Volunteer Week among our volunteers. It is just another week on the calendar, but one where we do focus our attention on the role of the volunteer in our organization and for the benefit of the families we serve. This observance usually manifests itself with a letter from our Board president to all active volunteers, some small token of our appreciation, possibly an informal lunch on one or two of the days together with that day's volunteers, a volunteer potluck/in-service meeting during the week and the finale is our annual Spring Cleaning Fling on Saturday. You are right, however, it is hard to find the dates of the observation from Points of Light Foundation's Website. I ultimately called our local Volunteer Mobile, agency supported by United Way, to secure the correct dates.
Submitted by Ofi Osin-Cohen , Director, Jewish Volunteer Center, Miami, FL USA
Amen!!!I think this should be a significant discussion at the IAVA Conference.
Submitted by Joan E. Thompson, Executive Director; Mayflower RSVP, Inc., Massachusetts/USA
Susan, thanks for "National Volunteer Week: Does Anyone Care?" Last National Volunteer Week: 2000, was like throwing a party - but nobody came! The Southeastern Massachusetts Volunteer Council (SEMAVC) mounted a public recognition for NVW:2000 by soliciting gifts, promotions, and recognition events from local businesses, banks, and service providers of all descriptions. We assembled a coupon-book for volunteers totaling more than 100 "Thank You's", ranging from 10% coffee-shop discounts to $50 Gift Certificates from each of ten branches of a local bank. All a volunteer needed to qualify for a "Thank You" was to wear their Red-V ribbon and present the coupon book. Since we hoped to recognize volunteers from all walks of service (not just among member agencies) approximately 5,000 volunteers were thanked with a "Red-V" (designed by each distribution-site) and the coupon-book.
That bank that offered $500-worth of Gift Certificates? Five of their branches did not have a single person walk in and identify themselves as a volunteer! Most businesses reported fewer than 1/2 dozen volunteers walking in during the entire week. So where were the volunteers? Lessons learned: "Volunteers" are NOT a "separate species" - "they" are "us". Volunteers are employees and customers at each of those generous businesses. But not a single business thought to open their campaign to employees or customers - only people who'd had Red-V's & coupon books sent them by their service-site. This year, we're inviting businesses to post a "Thank You to Volunteers!" notice throughout National Volunteer Week - and invite customers and employees to identify where they volunteer - & receive a "Thank You" gift. The agency-world of "Volunteers" is too small. We need a reason to identify ourselves as volunteers to the rest of the world . . .with the assurance we will be greeted with appreciation and enthusiasm!
Submitted by Louise Shivers, Coord., Volunteer Services, Monmouth Medical Center, New Jersey, USA
You are absolutely right! I went to the IYV Web-site and was so unimpressed! There was nothing for me to "get involved with internationally, no suggestions, no nothing! And if I order one more mug, I will die! I did sign-up and join the list of IYV members at least 6 weeks ago, but to date, I have not received any information or the media kit that was promised! The volunteer managers in our hospital system, Saint Barnabas Health Care System, Livingston, NJ, decided last year to get together at least twice a year and brainstorm issues and ideas that effect all of us. This year we decided that we wanted the system to recognize volunteers like they do nurse and doctors on their special day. A representative of the group contacted the CEO and asked for an ad to be put in every local paper of all 10 hospitals in the system congratulating the SBHCS volunteers. To our surprise, he said "YES!" We were shocked, surprised and pleased. You are right! Volunteer managers need to advocate, lobby and just plain ask for what we want! Who knows? They might just say yes!
Submitted by Cassandra Shella, Program Coordinator, RSVP Greater Cleveland, Ohio
I am a program coordinator for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Greater Cleveland. We have decided to use National Volunteer Week as a way to bring awareness of volunteerism to the Cleveland area and also to thank anyone who has ever volunteered. We have partnered with two other community agencies and a local professional organization for volunteer administrators. We are spreading out over the city to numerous locations to hand out bookmarker, mints and cards to the general public. The free goodies are a thank you and an awareness tool . Wish us luck, this is our first time trying this project!
Submitted by Nancy Amos, Program Manager, IYV, Volunteer Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Being just over the border from our American neighbors, it is very interesting to note the similarities and differences in National Volunteer Week. In Canada, NVW is very much a community-driven initiative, supported by materials developed at the national level. With our proactive partnership with the Government of Canada, Volunteer Canada, as the national voice of volunteerism in our country, has been able to provide to our partner volunteer centres across the country many of the suggestions that you made in your commentary. Just as an example, we actually have a unique partnership with Hallmark Cards of Canada to create generic volunteer thank you cards in Canada. Check them out, along with all the other IYV 2001 material being produced in Canada at (no longer online, 2014). You can also have a look at our materials for NVW 2001 at (no longer online). IYV 2001 has provided a great opportunity to grow Volunteer Week and volunteerism in Canada.
Submitted by John Schneider, Vice President , Points of Light, Washington, DC
In response to your article, National Volunteer Week: Does Anyone Care?, I thought you might like to know that the Points of Light Foundation and the Volunteer Center National Network do indeed care and are fully committed to support National Volunteer Week. While we would certainly do more given additional funding, here are some examples of our current support activities:
Our media relations strategy has always been to develop and provide outstanding promotional materials to all of our Volunteer Centers so that they can work with the local media to promote their own activities. As a result, we receive a large amount of local publicity. While we issue national press releases and pitch stories to the national media, most of our effort is to look for local media opportunities. That's where the real stories are located!
We produce a comprehensive promotional tool kit that is available -- beginning in January -- at no cost to our member Volunteer Centers and is also available to other local and national organizations throughout the country. The kit includes a CD, fact sheet, logo slicks, radio spots, hints on gaining publicity, editorial suggestions, etc.
Because we believe that the focus of NVW is primarily to recognize the efforts of volunteers, we coordinate a number of national and local activities, such as the President’s Service Awards, the Make a Difference Awards, the Daily Points of Light Awards, Youth Service Day (Youth Service America), etc.
Our officers are always scheduled in advance to speak with both national and community groups for the entire week.
We provide radio and television interviews before and during the week. We’ve had an excellent track record for placement.
Our web site while under construction for the next few months does in fact have a NVW icon as part of the Seasons of Service schedule of events. The site itself has a number of information components about NVW.
During the past two years, we have made electronic “Cards of Appreciation” available on our web site and are working with a major card company to create additional opportunities. We have not made the cards available this year, however, because our web site is under construction.
We send thousands of “Seasons of Service” calendars to Volunteers Centers and other community organizations.
Every year, we obtain proclamations from the President of the United States as well as from the governors of every state.
We work with corporations throughout the country to develop opportunities for their employees to volunteer during the week.
We are working with major companies one is a major national cable company to provide assistance in producing public service announcements to be shown during the week.
We are providing our toll-free number (1-800-VOLUNTEER) to a number of companies and organizations to help promote National Volunteer Week through their own marketing efforts.
Every year, we develop the theme and logo for the week.
We provide the National Volunteer Week Hotline (202-729-8168) to answer questionsWe provide the National Volunteer Week Hotline (202-729-8168) to answer questions and respond to requests. The hotline has been extremely popular.
We have developed web banners that have been placed with major Internet sites.
And while we may not be able to do everything you've suggested in your article because of our modest budget, we do leverage our limited resources very effectively.
Submitted by Rustie Brooke, Mayor's Voluntary Action Center, Founder, NYC/IYV, New York City USA
It's a good Hot Topic, Susan and thank you for posting it. As everyone knows, New York City is the first city in the world to actively and continuously mobilize for IYV. Leading this project gives me insight and entrée into some of the issues you write about.
- You are asking folks to step outside of their own personal agendas.
- You are asking folks to be courageous.
- You are asking folks to risk appearing foolish as they reach past their comfort levels.
- You are asking folks to question authority
- You are asking folks to stretch past complacency.
- You are asking folks to take a historical and global perspective.
- You are asking folks to ask "Why?" and "Why Not?"
- You are asking folks to believe they can act creatively and with originality.
- You are asking folks to challenge the status quo.
- You are asking folks to speak with authenticity.
- You are asking folks to park their egos at the door
Susan. Maybe they don't want to.
- Maybe it's soothing to sing to the choir.
- Maybe it's comforting to collect plastic mugs.
- Maybe it's fun to follow the herd.
- Maybe it's safe to stay within process.
- Maybe it's easy to believe what you see and hear.
- Maybe it's pleasant to parrot old rhetoric.
- Maybe it's suitable to scatter one's energies.
- Maybe it's rewarding to follow ineffectual and/or corrupt leadership.
And maybe all they want is One Big IYV Recognition Event for 2001.
Substantial issues and advocacy isn't for everyone.
Maybe volunteerism in the United States is still about stuffing envelopes
and chatting about opportunities while worshipping opportunists.
It's been hard work these past 2 years. The New York City Committee
has declared April 2001 as NYC Volunteer Month. Launching 5 borough and airport street banners and a Website and a New York Times supplement and the 12 month Volunteer Profile Project fits the criteria you mention for promoting awareness of volunteerism past the inner community. How did we do this?
Happy Volunteer Week everyone and many more!
Submitted by Latasha Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator, YMCA of Middle Tennessee, Tennessee / USA
I agree 1000%. It would be awesome to have some celebrity endorsements to bring this "volunteer thing" to the forefront. I am the Volunteer Coordinator for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee since September 2000 and love my job. We are celebrating National Volunteer Week with an array of events like Breakfast, Luncheons and a Family Fun Day at our Camp here in Nashville. But once again, I agree with you and we, the workers, should stick together to celebrate our volunteers in the way they deserve.
Submitted by Jill Thomsen, Volunteer Coordinator, Peoria Library, Arizona
I agree, I coordinate a volunteer program at a library and we continually recognize our volunteers. When NVW has come around I have always looked for the "big publicity" outside of our library and never see any. I often wonder why since volunteers are such a integral part of our society and do so much. I know for a fact our library could not operate if we did not have such dedicated volunteers. It would be nice if as a unit we could be consistent in recognizing this time. Maybe NVW should be moved to a time of the year when we could maintain a more consistent date.
Submitted by Janice McAlpine, Coordinator of Volunteers, Information Niagara, Ontario, Canada
Thank you, Susan, for addressing an issue that needs attention - promotion of volunteerism in one's own community, outside one's agency, through the media. Appearances and announcements on local cable TV stations and radio stations, and regular articles in local newspapers (daily, weekly, monthly & bi-monthly) go a long way toward bringing public recognition to the services that volunteers provide. These also give us opportunities to advertise positions for volunteers that are currently available and to profile individuals and groups which often work behind the scenes, quietly seeing that things get done. Hearing a story from someone on the receiving end of volunteer services adds an even greater impact.
Submitted by Mary Lou Warren, Director RSVP of Barton County, Ks
You are so right, I have tried for years to get our community to celebrate the Week. We have no Volunteer Center, so the RSVP program tries to coordinate. We had a celebration a couple of years, but the other agencies said only the "old people" came and they only came for door prizes. Last year our newspaper did a tabloid on the first day of the week, but did not contact agencies for input. I like the suggestion of what volunteers are doing in the community and I am going to write an article and submit it to the paper and see if it is published. Thanks
Submitted by Sandie Cunningham, Lighthouse Hospice, Volunteer Coordinator, NJ
I agree wholeheartedly with your statements. Each year we hold a recognition event for our volunteers during NVW, but it is an internal recognition. This year I have written letters to the Editor of 4 local papers explaining what NVW is and how the volunteers have affected our agency. It's a small start, but next year I hope to do more with better planning and earlier with the media.
Submitted by Rita Wiersma, Volunteer Coordinator Justice and Social System Volunteer Program, Rochester, MN USA
We struggle every year with the same thought. We do a recognition for volunteers and try to involve local media, but often wonder if anyone notices. There are so many days for people to take notice of volunteers that it's hard to pick and choose what is doable for your organization. The bigger question to me that Susan raises is, why doesn't our national organizations take the lead on this. We have a theme, product, but that's about it. If they have media packets available, they come out too late to utilize. Print is fine, but visual or audio is what people notice. We need to develop that area. Truthfully, we've spent a great deal of time on IYV in our organization and tried to incorporate volunteer week with our local World Fest feeding off the international focus. I think the trends of volunteering also has something to do with this issue. Gone are the days of major recognition dinners and such in our area, people just don't attend. We need to be more creative in how we celebrate volunteers.
Submitted by Lesley Dunn, Executive Director, Volunteer Resource Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
A universal date/week for recognition is certainly something to strive for, however I think the key message is always volunteer recognition needs to happen 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day. Do we need bells and whistles? What sets our sector apart from any other activity is that we engage in activities that multiply happiness in others. Perhaps that is recognition enough.
Submitted by Lori Hoye-Logan, Coordinator of Volunteers Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare, Washington State USA
One way to show that we do or should care is an open letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Often, issues have less to do with caring than ignorance. It is our responsibility as Volunteer Managers to help educate the public on the amazing possibilities out there to utilize volunteers. And yes, Susan I shamelessly "borrowed from you as you suggested to help make my community aware." Thanks
Submitted by Julie Gillis Lucas, American Diabetes Association, Austin TX
What a good article. The confusion of dates, times, proclamations and events make it difficult to know what's where. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to work with greeting card companies, major sponsors et al to "nationalize" the event. What role is AVA playing in advocacy, what else nationally can we do? Let's here more ideas about how to distill our message and make more of a change.
Submitted by Margaret Paul, Executive Director, The School Children's Aid Society, Illinois
The points that you made about National Volunteer Week were good. I for one didn't know that it existed. What week in April will it be celebrated this year? You said that the week changes due to Easter and Passover but forgot to tell us the week it will be observed this year. I would do my part to make the week a real event at our non-profit. You are right about the lack of press coverage. I live in Chicago and none of the papers have been carrying any story on it.
Note from Webmaster: Thanks for alerting us to our omission. We now have a link to the dates from the hot topic.