One of this nation's most valuable resources is its volunteers.
During National Volunteer Week, April 9-15, millions of these dedicated men, women and young people in communities throughout the nation and here in the Virgin Islands will be saluted for their efforts and their commitment to serve.
The University of the Virgin Islands commends the many volunteers on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix who make a difference every day in our community and in the lives of many of our neighbors.
UVI is using National Volunteer Week as a time to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers associated with the university. UVI will especially honor the many UVI faculty, staff and students who volunteer in the community, as well as those local volunteers who help UVI with its projects, at receptions April 10 on St. Thomas and April 14 on St. Croix.
In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing National Volunteer Week as an annual observance. Every President since has signed a proclamation in its support.
During the 20 years that I have been working in the non-profit and higher education fields, I have usually accomplished meaningful, long-term results only when volunteers were intimately involved in the planning and implementing processes. I have found that only when "my" volunteers are successful am I successful, and for that I am very grateful.
More than 109 million adults now volunteer in the nation, contributing some 20 billion hours worth an estimated $225 billion. Volunteers make a difference in our community. They make our islands, our region and our country a better place. UVI urges those of you who are not yet part of this special group to join, whether to assist UVI or some other community organization. There are volunteer opportunities for everyone, whether you want to give your time every week, once a month or once a year.
Volunteering may not always be pleasant, but it is always necessary. What would our lives be like, what would our community and our nation be like, without neighbors helping neighbors? Volunteers provide compassion. They are the conscience of our society. They are thoughtful, committed citizens who continue to change our islands, our region, our nation, our world — one activity at a time.
If our community is to survive, let alone thrive, we must continue to tap the creative energy of people to bridge gaps and connect individuals and communities. Volunteers and institutions working together can create a new sense of community and of shared responsibility for our future. We can each be that thorn in the side of indifference.
Editor's note: Deborah Stevens Hamilton is director of annual giving for the University of the Virgin Islands.