06 December 2007
In its role of promoting, supporting and strengthening the development of volunteering worldwide, the International Association of Volunteer Effort (IAVE
) - and its diverse membership around the globe - celebrated International Volunteer Day (IVD) in a variety of ways.
IVD is a chance for volunteer organisations and individual volunteers to stand up and be recognised. On this day, marches, community parties, campaigns, and other activities feature prominently. Although IVD officially falls on 5 December, many nations celebrated the event on the preceding weekend.
In Panama, the party kicked off on Sunday 2 December with the "Proudly Volunteer" Walk-a-Thon through Panama City. Local volunteer organizations paraded through the city center in a joint celebration of both IVD and the official launch of a national campaign to promote the 20th IAVE World Volunteer Conference, which will take place in the capital on 2-5 April 2008. A task force from the IAVE Board of Directors was in Panama City for the Walk-a-Thon event and to assist with preparations for the Conference.
IVD was also celebrated on 2 December in Taiwan. As usual, Kaohsiung City did it in style, with a parade of volunteer organizations dressed as athletes from the various disciplines of the World Games, which will be hosted by the city in 2009. There was enthusiastic applause as the participants walked down a red carpet outside the Museum of Science and Technology, where the City Mayor gave a speech praising volunteers for their service work.
In Australia, volunteer based organizations were encouraged to celebrate IVD by the national volunteer center, Volunteering Australia. The center's website offered certificates of appreciation for volunteers, other tips on how to recognise volunteers, and a web page to list IVD activities and stories.
Similarly Volunteer Canada encouraged local volunteer centers and other interested organizations to mark IVD with campaigns, press releases, media stories on inspirational volunteers, and letters to newspapers.
While some countries started celebrating early, in Japan the festivities will be held off until the coming weekend of 7-11 December at the 11th IAVE Asia-Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference in Nagoya. Some 500 people will take part in the conference to discuss pertinent issues and learn from each other's experiences and endeavors, in order to work out solutions for the future.
The future is on our minds as IVD fades from the attention of the media for another year, because with or without public recognition, the work of volunteers goes on.