Volunteerism is Alive and Well

Thank you for your patience for my starting this series on Volunteerism.  I’ve been doing some volunteering of my own and just finished out our fiscal year and ready to share news and views on this topic.  We have seen our country become quite involved in the volunteer mode this past week after the devastation from hurricane Katrina.  People are so dedicated to helping others during times of crisis and it is our hope that they continue throughout their lifetime volunteering.  Everyone has their special places to volunteer and our dedication to defeating cancer has kept us truly committed these past years.

After just recently reading the June 5 issue of Non Profit Times , I would like to share some of the fine ideas of Susan J. Ellis who writes on volunteerism in many of their issues.  She offers a "starter set" of some 8 volunteerism-specific values that include: " Voluntary participation is vital to making communities work; Equal respect is due to work that is volunteered and work that is paid; Volunteer involvement balances three perspectives and sets of rights; Volunteering is an exchange in which both the recipient of services and the giver benefit; Volunteering is an equalizer; Volunteers have the right to be mavericks; Volunteering is a strategy for getthing things done; and Volunteering is a political act."  Be sure to read this complete article that covers thoughts on each of these values.  Are  you in agreement? What do you believe about volunteering?  Did this article spark some discussion that you would share with us?

Other News:  We know that the Boomers are coming of retirement age and information in the Marin Independent Journal lets us know that a new book entitled " Giving from your Heart" was written by Guy Lampard and Bob Rosenberg is something you will want to read.  They are both recent retirees that have dubbed this a book for "active agers", and is full of practical guidelines on how to begin your new time of life volunteering to give back to others. 

The book has been endorsed by former Presidents George H.W. Bush, a volunteer through his Point of Light Foundation, and Jimmy Carter, who has been very active with Habitat for Humanity.  There was a book reading and signing on September 6th at the Book Passage in Corte Madera, California.  I’m sure they have a few copies on hand if you give them a call (415-927-0960) or your favorite book store.

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  1. I think you’re right about volunteering being alive and well. And I also think that retiring boomers will be looking for involvement activities. What I think would be great is to do some interviewing of people 50 to 60 and see what they want and expect. The environment for active boomers is going to be competitive. Employers are going to try to entice them back to work too. I think the more creative organizers are going to benefit the most.

  2. “Volunteers have the right to be mavericks”? That’s an interesting one. Everybody has the right to be a maverick, I think. 🙂 But it’s probably true that sometimes a volunteer with an outside-the-organization perspective can offer unusual criticism or suggestions that will be received more readily than if an employee made them.

    In the Illinois Division of ACS, we’ve written volunteer “job descriptions” that prospective volunteer committee chairs and other types of volunteer can read and agree to (or modify, I think) when they first get involved. It helps both of us, the volunteer and the organization, avoid surprises or unmet expectations. I’m sure there are many times when volunteers don’t end up doing exactly what they’d first planned to do, and that’s fine, but it helps avoid unhappy volunteer experiences.

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