Yesterday kicked off National Volunteer Week! This is always an exciting week, as Marylanders of every community engage in large volunteer events and celebrate volunteerism with dinners, awards, and special events. Whether large or small, we know how important it is to recognize volunteers. This week is a wonderful opportunity to do so. Even with the tremendous struggles going on in Washington, President Obama took a moment to officially proclaim this week National Volunteer Week. Here’s a piece of the proclamation.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our schools and shelters, hospitals and hotlines, and faith-based and community groups. From mentoring at-risk youth and caring for older Americans to supporting our veterans and military families and rebuilding after disasters, these everyday heroes make a real and lasting impact on the lives of millions of women and men across the globe.
I kicked off this week a bit early by joining Baltimore’s Citizens Planning and Housing Association for “Activate Your Inner Citizen: University” on Saturday. On a slightly chilly Saturday morning, more than 100 Baltimore residents came out to attend workshops that will enable them to become stronger, more effective community leaders. Workshops ranged from effective communications and the development of community newsletters to leadership succession and, of course, volunteer engagement and management.
In the volunteer management workshops I facilitated, I met folks from all over Baltimore who were looking to engage volunteers in everything from cleaning up parks to wrapping gifts for children to neighborhood watches. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many community volunteers who are working to improve their neighborhoods.
The participants on Saturday represented so many Marylanders who are volunteering every day to improve their communities. Maryland is a great volunteer state. According to a 2010 report on the state of service in Maryland:
- 1.3 million Marylanders volunteer each year – that’s 29.4 percent of Maryland citizens.
- Those volunteers provided 199.8 million hours of service – that’s 45.7 hours per resident!
- This service is valued at $4.2 billion to our communities.
This is a week to thank all volunteers. It’s a week to recognize the necessity of, and power in, service. So, thank you. Thank you to the 1.3 Marylanders who work so hard to make our state a stronger, healthier place to live. Thank you!