Volunteering Hearts, Minds and Spirits
I've been greatly encouraged by the international outpouring of support that mobilized literally overnight following the recent earthquake in Nepal. Volunteers from all over the world have travelled – in some cases thousands of miles at the last minute – to areas devastated by the disaster, helping people they have never met and would otherwise never have a reason to know. This sort of inspiring scenario plays out after many high-profile natural disasters around the globe, from the tsunami in Thailand to the earthquake in Haiti. It's only natural, after witnessing destruction and suffering in the news, to want to do something in that moment to help. But it's not just victims of large-scale disasters in a far-off place who need our help. There are many people in our own communities who suffer and could benefit from an army of volunteers, but whose pain passes largely under the radar because it's not part of any breaking news event.
The work we perform at Volunteers of America is centered on people who volunteer their hearts, minds and spirits to our mission of helping America's most vulnerable. This includes two special groups of people – those who work for our organization as employees, and those unpaid people engaged in what we think of traditionally as "volunteer work." Both groups working together are essential to the success of our programs and ensuring that our clients receive well-rounded care. Our volunteers also provide a much-needed connection to local communities. Volunteer involvement allows us to introduce the needs of our clients to those who might not know fully understand the extent of hunger or homelessness in their backyards – and in the process, make sure our clients don't remain hidden and invisible.
Nationally, we depend on an army of more than 60,000 volunteers who offer their free time to support our programs nationwide. These volunteers perform work such as delivering meals; providing administrative support such as answering phones; collecting food or clothing; and providing professional services such as legal counsel, public relations, training and motivational speaking. These volunteers tend to remain out of the headlines because they are too busy serving those in need to seek attention.
I encourage you to look closely in your community and identify ways in which you can dedicate your own skills and interests toward helping others. Learn more about how to get involved with a Volunteers of America program near you.