On International Volunteer Day, we stand in awe of more than a billion Volunteers who Build Resilient Communities around the world. As we recognize the collective efforts of volunteers globally, we reflect on the multitude of actions taken locally to help people, communities and neighbourhoods become better prepared to respond to the unexpected, and better positioned for a more sustainable future.

The United Nations Development Program leads the International Volunteer Day campaign and developed this theme, based on the findings of the State of the World’s Volunteerism Report 2018, that demonstrated the local impact of volunteering around the world. The report provides examples of volunteer impact, through the frame of the Sustainable Development Goals. Volunteers are seen building schools for girls, helping grandmothers care for their HIV positive grandchildren, burying those who perished during earthquakes, and restocking medical supplies in makeshift clinics. 

With the notion of resilient communities as a backdrop, Volunteer Canada is thrilled to launch the theme for National Volunteer Week 2019:  The Volunteer Factor – Lifting Communities. 

The Volunteer Factor celebrates and recognizes the exponential impact of volunteers – the cascading effect of individuals taking action. We see it everyday. Volunteers leading neighbourhood activities, lifting the collective confidence to solve common issues. Volunteers tutoring people to read, lifting their self-esteem and increasing their success in school. Volunteers visiting people, lifting their spirits and keeping them connected. Volunteers coaching sports teams, lifting community pride and creating life-long bonds. 

You never know what can give others a lift during a difficult day. Someone spontaneously pays for your coffee or lets you go ahead of them in line at the grocery store. Maybe a neighbour shovelled your walk after a storm when you were healing from surgery. Maybe you asked someone to join a board of directors of the neighbourhood association and they said yes! What is behind this… it’s the Volunteer Factor!

Volunteering can also give volunteers a lift. When we volunteer, our spirits are lifted when we have the opportunity to work with others. Our sense of purpose is lifted when we see how our efforts have helped someone else. Our confidence lifts when we gain skills and experience through volunteering, helping us get into a competitive school program or successfully find a job. What lifts your chances to achieve your goals…It’s the Volunteer Factor!

The beautiful image of the hot air balloons of different sizes, shapes and colours reflects the diversity of community volunteers. It illustrates that when people volunteer together, the sky is the limit, in terms of what they can achieve. 

From all of us at Volunteer Canada, we wish you a Happy International Volunteer Day!  Let us know how we can support you as you plan for National Volunteer Week 2019.