Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reaching Out in Uncertain Times

Now more than ever, our host partners are looking to Global Volunteers for the kind of help we have been providing for 25 years. Our volunteers bring the face of kindness and compassion in person, through their hands-on service to organizations worldwide who have invited Global Volunteers into their communities. Yes, these are uncertain times, but we can be certain -- in our uncertainty -- that the people we help know us by our name, they know us by the hope we have left behind, and know us by the Global Volunteers who keep on coming, no matter what. Their children and babies know us by loving arms that hold them, voices that sing to them, eyes that smile at them and hands that applaud the littlest things they have learned today, because of a Global Volunteer.

- Patty Carlson, volunteer coordinator for Global Volunteers

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Global Volunteer Rick Koniar in Chennai, India

In Gratitude for the Privilege and Value of Volunteering

As a volunteer to local efforts apart from my role with Global Volunteers, I personally experience the joy and satisfaction of making a difference to local efforts frequently each month. And, I know that were it not for my contribution of skills and energy, many of these pressing needs would go unmet.

I also feel the sincere gratitude of those who benefit directly from my time, and of those who manage the legions who commit to these worthy causes.

I am often awestruck by the trust and responsibility put into my hands as a local volunteer, and it’s at those times I am reminded of what we ask each of our team members on Global Volunteers service programs. You are our hands and heart in Global Volunteers’ host communities. You are the delivery mechanism of the compassion and respect for local people we all feel when we come to work each day. You help us carry out a vision articulated 25 years ago….and to which we’ve recommitted ourselves year after year. It is through your commitment and dedication on the ground that our host partners are able to build on their own community’s vision and realize – over time – the fullness of their potential.

This can all be reduced to clich├ęs in the media, but it’s never overstated or trite to those of us who work in the field of volunteerism, and who experience the value of volunteers’ efforts personally. I have likewise benefitted from the generosity of volunteers reaching out to me through the years, in both formal and informal settings. So as one who has experienced the “trifecta” of volunteerism – recipient, participant and manager – I’m grateful that this grand institution is now receiving the attention and credit that is due.

As I reflect on my own role as a volunteer, I’m humbled by what I’ve gained and learned through the generous invitation to me by others into their lives – sometimes at the most intimate times of need. I never take that privilege lightly. So too, I revere the opportunity we each have as Global Volunteers to share our community partners’ lives – in their schools, their offices, their churches and their homes. When you stop to ponder this amazing international achievement, it’s no wonder the great Winston Churchill remarked: “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”

-Michele Gran, Global Volunteers co-founder and CEO