National Volunteer Week 2018 is on this week in New Zealand, a time to recognise and celebrate the 1.2 million Kiwis throughout the country who give of their time, skills and goodwill to help in their community.
Volunteers make a vital contribution to social development, the economy and the environment by donating upwards of 157 million hours to non-profits, annually. This number is down on previous years though, which suggests, now more than ever, the importance and benefits of volunteer work – both to the person and the wider community – needs to be emphasised.
This year’s theme is: The Heart of our Community – By many, the work will be completed, and targets the essential link between the volunteers and the communities who benefit from their work. In a sense, the volunteers are the heart of the community because without them, our communities would be fractured and unable to complete all of the endeavours and enterprises they wish to.
“Communities big and small, throughout the country rely on the goodwill and passion that Kiwis have for their communities,” says Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering NZ. Volunteering New Zealand is an association of national volunteer-involving organisations that have a commitment to volunteering.
Although statistics show volunteering in New Zealand is experiencing a slump, Heather Moore, the General Manager at Volunteering Waikato disagrees: “In the past few years it has been encouraging to see a significant increase in the number of volunteers finding roles in the community through Volunteering Waikato […] Sometimes we hear people saying that volunteering is dying, or declining – that is not our experience. It is definitely changing, but so is everything else.”
“In every community you find volunteers who relentlessly work to make New Zealand a better place – whether it is through setting traps in a local reserve, patrolling the beach through summer or delivering a meal to someone in need […] the work they do is the lifeblood of our society,” Helga Wientjes, Volunteering NZ Chairperson, goes on to say.
Visit volunteeringnz.org.nz to find out how you too can get involved in your community.