Volunteer Appreciation Week is coming up soon. April 18-24 to be exact. I've often heard it said that without volunteers our country would probably shutdown. Volunteers give countless hours and usually to more than one organization. On post we have numerous opportunities to volunteer our time from helping out at the USO, Family Readiness Groups, PWOC/MCCW, OCSC/ECSC, etc...the list could go on for awhile. And then you throw in the civilian community...how are we supposed to choose who we donate our time to? A good friend reminded me that you need to pick one or two organizations your passionate about and go from there because it is better to focus our energy on that instead of 4 or 5 different organizations.
Volunteers don't often seek out recognition. I think we wonder about those who do. To be honest you probably don't realize just how much a person who is willing to volunteer really does. When asked they usually downplay it and underestimate the hours they devote to an organization. Volunteers don't do it for the recognition, they do it because they love what they are doing and who they are helping.
I had a lot of time to think about this as I was driving the 2 hour drive home from Kansas City yesterday. I had just attended a volunteer appreciation luncheon for Girl Scouts. About 60 people and 8 businesses were recognized for their contribution to Girl Scouts in our council. Some of them were really amazing people, but to be honest, some of them had done far less than people in our own little Service Unit, but no one from our area was nominated for an award. I decided it's time to change that.
Volunteers may not seek recognition, but they need it. Everyone needs to feel appreciated for what they contribute. It's one of the keys to volunteer retention. Sometimes people quit because they have to, but you don't want people quitting because they want to.
So take some time and say thank you to a volunteer. I've often heard the phrase, "Money makes the world go round," but I think it's volunteers! So thank you to all of my friends who give up so much of their time to help others.