In the Community
It Hardly Seems EnoughApril 02, 2018
President George H. W. Bush, in his inaugural address in 1989, noted, “We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light…We all have something to give."
Indeed we do. And volunteerism has been a part of the culture of the United States before we were the United States. From the early colonization efforts to present day, volunteers have been the informal lifeblood of communities, as well as the more established third sector.
National Volunteer Week is celebrated this year from April 15 through April 22. It was established in 1974 and the celebration is currently organized by Points of Light, “the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.” Each year the impact of the celebration grows, as thousands of projects and events utilizing and acclaiming volunteers take place at this time.
Considering the importance of volunteers, it is somewhat embarrassing that we celebrate their impact for only a week annually. It hardly seems enough. Did you know that nationally 20 million hours of volunteer service is provided each year and that 5 million amazing people do this work? The dollar value? $482 million. Stunning.
In South Carolina, 22.7% of residents volunteer; that includes 903,249 volunteers, at 34.8 volunteer hours per capita and 120.67 million hours of service. Nonprofit organizations are heavily dependent upon this assistance. We all need volunteer boards and there are many organizations where the majority of the hands that provide the service are volunteer hands.
And little feels better, as President Bush proclaimed, than to “…find meaning and reward by serving… .”
So, how can you find a place to serve? Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has a portal on our website called Lowcountry Volunteer Connections. As one Foundation staff member says, “It’s like Match.com for nonprofits and volunteers!” We have 118 local organizations which have created profiles and there are at least 64 active volunteer needs posted as I write this. There are 630 registered volunteers. Those needing resume- or transcript-building can use this service to record their volunteer hours and types of services performed. Registering either as a volunteer, or as a nonprofit needing volunteers, is free and easy to do.
And in April, when this article appears, we will be completing our #LowcountryVolunteers Challenge. It is a fun way to champion volunteerism and share with the world how meaningful volunteering is. As part of the challenge, we’ll award four $2,000 grants to participating nonprofit organizations in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton Counties.
Join us to celebrate the diversity and compassion of all our #LowcountryVolunteers. Again, more information about how to participate is on our website through the link above.