The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 28.8 per cent of the population volunteered their time in 2019 and, today, we want to celebrate all volunteers as part of Volunteer Recognition Day.
Volunteer Recognition Day was first established in 2015 to celebrate the amazing volunteering efforts of individuals and groups. From wildlife conservation groups, to women’s rights campaigners, leading Bible study groups, scripture teaching in schools, free healthcare services, and fire fighters and disaster relief workers, to soup kitchen attendees and sports coaches, volunteering takes place all year round – all over the world – and in a variety of forms.
According to Volunteering Australia, volunteering is “time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain”. While assisting the economic and health status of a nation, volunteering also benefits the health and wellbeing of volunteers by providing a personal sense of satisfaction and belonging.
Sri Lanka led the way as the most volunteering nation of its time, with roughly 46 per cent of the population giving to a charity between 2009 and 2018, according to the World Giving Index.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more,” – H. Jackson Brown Jr, American author of Life’s Little Instruction Book
The United Nations estimated there were roughly 970 million volunteers in the world – an equivalent of 125 million full-time workers, according to the study conducted by John Hopkins University in the US.
Due to COVID-19, opportunities to volunteer have diminished, as yearly fundraisers, trail walks, charity bike rides, bake sales and soup kitchens have been pushed aside, and activities have migrated online.
COVID is proof, however, that we can use online communication in new ways and that human connection is needed now more than ever before. Throughout Australia, more than 8000 telehealth counselling sessions were provided for people in communities affected by drought, bushfire, flood and COVID-19.
Overseas opportunities may currently be on pause but there are volunteering opportunities in our own states and communities including large to small charity organisations, hospitals, aged care, op shops, local sporting clubs, bushfire recovery or bush regeneration efforts, and many more areas of interest. If you haven’t volunteered before and are looking for a place to start, Volunteering Australia should be able to guide you and before long you’ll be an asset to the community you’re providing time to while also receiving your own health and wellbeing benefits.
“Remember this. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
And, for those already volunteering, we hope you feel appreciated and thanked on this Volunteer Recognition Day.
By Rebecca Le Bas