e-CIVICUS 418 - Issued 05 December 2008 

Celebrating the work of volunteers on International Volunteer Day
By Dr. Kang-Hyun Lee, President of International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE)  

On behalf of our international board of directors and our individual and organization members in 70 countries, I am pleased to extend to all of the readers of e-CIVICUS the best wishes of IAVE - The International Association for Volunteer Effort as we join together to celebrate International Volunteer Day.  

IAVE is the only global network that exists solely to promote, support and celebrate volunteering in all of its forms throughout the world. We are a membership-driven network of people share a belief in the power of volunteer service to change the world. IAVE also has organizational members including businesses, NPOs and NGOs. We are the sponsors of the biennial World Volunteer Conference; we are the parent organization for the Global Corporate Volunteer Council; we are partners with CIVICUS and United Nations Volunteers in the landmark study of the relationship of volunteering and social activism.  

On International Volunteer Day, we are reminded of the tremendous diversity of volunteers in the world.  

Children, teenagers and young adults volunteer - and so, too, do middle-agers and seniors. Both men and women volunteer. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds volunteer as do people of all economic levels. People who have never been to school, people who have the most advanced degrees and everyone in between volunteer. Volunteering is a global activity, as ubiquitous as worshiping, learning and working. We believe volunteering is a basic human right.  

If we could look at the work of volunteers around the world at this very moment, as you read these words, we would be amazed at the diversity of their efforts.   

Every day, volunteers line up and take action on virtually every side of every issue confronting our planet. They are human rights activists, environmentalists, advocates for and against social change, political activists. They are fighting for social justice for those who cannot speak for themselves and advocating for peaceful and positive change.  

Volunteers worldwide are providing direct services to people in need – those who are poor, sick, uneducated, disabled, aged, abandoned, abused and forced from their homes. Through local, national and global campaigns, they are educating the public, increasing private philanthropy and influencing decision makers in every sector to pay greater attention to the needs of those forced to live on the margin of society.  

In every country, volunteers are working to build civil society – creating new NGOs, acting as social entrepreneurs, recruiting and managing other volunteers. They are fighting for the right to voluntarily join together to pursue their shared interests.  

In every community, volunteers are working to build stronger, healthier, more just and more sustainable communities. They are protecting cultural heritages, making art and culture available to all, preserving local history, maintaining museums and libraries, providing recreational opportunities, leading sports clubs and grassroots neighborhood groups.  

Volunteering is, by definition, an act of free will, done without expectation of financial reward, to benefit the greater good as understood by the volunteer. It is one of the most powerful ways people can act to help themselves and one another, to build a world of safety, opportunity and justice for everyone.  

It is all of those volunteers and the work they do that we celebrate on International Volunteer Day.  

We invite you to join IAVE in our work to strengthen volunteering worldwide.  To learn more about us and how you can become part of our global network, please visit www.iave.org.  

Ends

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