Monica J. Griffith

Today is the end of Volunteer Week.

I’ll share a bit of history in the origins for this week of recognition.

In Canada, National Volunteer Week was first conceived in 1943 as a way to celebrate the contribution made by women on the home front to the war effort. After World War II ended, National Volunteer Week declined in popularity until the 1960s when it revived and eventually began gaining popularity in the United States as well.

National Volunteer Week in the United States was first established via Presidential Proclamation signed by Richard Nixon in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Since then, the original emphasis on celebration has widened; the week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities and communities reinforce the week’s official theme (“Celebrating People in Action”) by recognizing volunteers and fostering a culture of service.

Why bring this topic to the Coach’s Corner? Today is my Volunteer Day. Each Friday, I offer my coaching services to Veterans and the Military families who have so courageously put themselves in harm’s way. I am not sharing this for any self-recognition or praise, rather to acknowledge the many volunteers in our midst who quietly go about the matters of doing for others.

For some, it is a payback for benefits they may have received. They may be grateful for a previous hand-out or gift or support. In essence, they are returning the favor to others in gratitude or appreciation for support they received in a time of need.

For others, it is a pay-it-forward. Perhaps they have lived a very blessed life and have not noticed the volunteers who supported them. Or, they may not know from whom they received assistance; nevertheless, they want to give time and talent so that others may prosper.

Regardless of the reason or circumstance, we are a ‘community’ of souls – each reliant on others. I see a volunteer as one who chooses or willingly expresses to undertake a service to the benefit of others without the expectation of compensation. Where would we be without the millions of volunteers who contribute to each and every one of us?

Take a moment today. Look around. Who has contributed, crossed your path, made a difference for you today? Who has made a difference just because they are giving – just because they are willing and they can? Do you see them? Would you say: Thank you, to these generous souls.