Valuing Volunteers

This past Saturday Youth Challenge International joined with CUSO International, Crossroads International, and CESO to recognize and reflect on the impact of volunteers at home and overseas. Our Executive Director, Bryan Cox, spoke to close the day on valuing volunteers. Below is an exerpt of the speech he gave in honor of International Volunteer Day

This photo, taken by YCI volunteer Devon Hamilton, was featured in the photo exhibit at our International Volunteer Day event.

It is my pleasure to welcome volunteers, alumni, and friends to this International Volunteer Day event on behalf of CUSO International, Crossroads International, CESO, and Youth Challenge International. We are also here today to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers and to share and reflect on the value of volunteerism.

In view of the 2015 target date of the Millennium Development Goals, the International Year of Volunteers plus ten offers a unique opportunity to celebrate and renew our commitment to the four pillars of the International Year of Volunteers established in 2001:

Recognition: Acknowledging the value of volunteerism to society all over the world and the connection between volunteerism and the Millennium Development Goals

Facilitation: Ensuring that the maximum number of people from the broadest range of backgrounds have access to volunteer opportunities

Networking: Fostering the exchange of experience and strengthening partnerships among different entities, promoting and implementing volunteer projects

Promotion: Promoting inclusive volunteerism representative of the diverse groups in society

Achieving the anticipated results by 2015 creates a renewed call to action for all of us in the coming year. In this room, we are represented by volunteers who serve as community workers, health practitioners, educators, humanitarians, development practitioners, advisors, capacity builders, and Board members, to name a few.

Volunteers are emerging as today’s new leaders, the creative thinkers, the change makers, and the innovators that are making a difference in the world today.   You represent a cohort of people who care about what is happening in the world and are willing to go the extra distance to do something about it.

In a period of financial uncertainty, government austerity, and high unemployment, it is volunteers who step in to provide the essential services and deliver the programs that would have otherwise been cut. Volunteers provide critical resources during emergencies and restore a sense dignity to those impacted by poverty, conflict and natural disaster. Most importantly, volunteers provide hope, to people that in many cases; have lost all sense of hope.

If only we could measure the monetary value of Global volunteerism and use it a mechanism to balance the worlds stock markets and financial institutions.   This would bring a renewed sense of hope to anyone who has opened his or her investment report lately, and could also lead to a global volunteer renaissance.

I would like to finish by sharing a quote from a Facebook post written by United Nations Volunteer staff member Rafael Martinez based in Germany on why volunteering matters.

“One of the reasons why volunteerism matters is because it offers the opportunity to do the right thing. Volunteerism promotes positive values and teaches us to move from self-centered behavior to people-centered behavior. There is no better way to improve our lives than improving other people’s lives. The more we do for humanity, the more benefits we receive. Volunteering, in the end, is in our own benefit” 

We would like to thank all of our international, local and office volunteers for their hard work and dedication to making YCI the organization we are today. 

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