October 2, 2011

Community Volunteering

Posted in Good news stories, Recognition of Volunteering, Valuing Volunteers at 3:12 am by Sue Hine

Every week my letterbox receives a consignment of community newspapers.  Mostly there are two, and sometimes three different publications, offering alternatives to the daily blast of national scandals, global political and financial messes and natural disasters.

A community newspaper tells me what is happening in my suburban environment.  I learn about school achievements and sporting successes.  There’s a piece about a service club that restores a child care centre playground, and another about a painting bee undertaken by a group of corporate volunteers.  Retirements from community service organisations are noted with respect, and I can read about new appointees.

These pages are a great place to insert a small-ad for recruiting volunteers.  And one newspaper publishes a fortnightly column presented by various community organisations.

In scanning community newspapers I learn much more than village-pump gossip.  There is such a strong sense of ‘community’, and I gain a connection to a tribe of people as much as being located in a particular geographic zone.

There is more: a double-page spread recorded last month’s Volunteer Service Awards for North Wellington.  This is where I find out what keeps my community keeping on.  There are twelve awards, and not all recipients are there to get the gold watch for longevity in community service.  It’s all about ‘volunteer service’, in schools, service clubs, youth groups, amateur theatre, church, the Community House or local Progressive Association.  None of these organisations are formally contracted to provide services, but they, and their volunteers, are there to provide a range of options for community focus, drawing people to participate in their community.  We are social
animals after all, and there is a lot of strength in belonging to a collective.  As well as pursuing personal interests.

A week later one of the newspapers reports on another award presentation, this time to recognise young people achieving in a range of areas, mostly for Service to the Community.  There is an impressive array of achievements and widespread community involvement.  I am impressed by the youthfulness of the recipients – some as young as ten or twelve – and heartily encouraged for the future of volunteering.  The event was, in the words of the local MP who presented the awards, “a celebration of community”.

It must be the season for awards.  They are racking up, the call for nominations to celebrate the great and the good, both national and local.  Great to see how many are related to community service, volunteering, and even management of volunteers.

Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Award 2012 is much bigger than finding individuals, and there is also scope to honour Local Heroes (which I wrote about back in March this year).  Have a look here to get your nomination in for 2012.

Better still, get into finding the Volunteer Manager of Excellence, sponsored by Australasian Association of Volunteer Administrators (AAVA).  Last year Heather Moore, General Manager of Volunteering Waikato, became the first New Zealander to be acknowledged for outstanding contribution to the profession of volunteer management.  Can we make it two years in a row?  Find the form here, and get nominations in now.

Go Volunteers, and their Managers!

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