Volunteer Recognition

Four or five weeks ago, I was writing a column about volunteers in our midst and how important it is to give back to the community in which we live.

The focus was primarily on a special program for volunteers at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. “Volunteers-in-Parks” or VIPs contributed more than 10,000 volunteer hours last year.

That program is vast, and it is vastly important to the park and to the community. Working with the professional staff, the VIPs helped preserve and protect one of the country’s great treasures. And, they deserve our recognition and appreciation.

And with those thoughts in mind, this past Saturday offered us a reminder to pause and recognize all volunteers in our neighborhood, our schools, churches, civic groups, and youth sports programs. Volunteer Recognition Day 2019 was observed in the USA on April 20. “It honors all volunteers who are working on behalf of others without being motivated by financial or material gain,” according to information promoting the day.

Although the day has passed, each of us can still celebrate by thanking volunteers we know for their service. Everyone who volunteers should hear that they are valued and appreciated.

It may be a bit late to be writing or reading about volunteering as it relates to the observance of Volunteer Recognition Day 2019. But, it’s never too late to be a volunteer in a program or service in which you have an interest or to say thanks to others whom you know that serve as volunteers.

Two or three interesting books might be considered if you wish to promote the idea now or prepare for the special day in 2020. April 20 is the date, year after year. The event is worldwide. Individuals in the tri-state area can bring it to the local level.

If you have a particular desire to serve your church, there’s a book entitled “Volunteering: A Guide to Serving in the Body of Christ,” a good beginning as we are leaving Easter weekend. Another book is “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back.” For children, how about “Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities.”

Volunteering has been a tradition in this country since pioneer days when neighbor helped neighbor in building houses, harvesting crops, and constructing barns. The history continues with new generations and new needs. Often volunteers find new avenues for skill development, making new friendships, and frequently enjoying great fun. And, they deserve a special word of appreciation when each of us, their friends and neighbors, can recognize their many contributions to our communities.

William H. Baker is a native of Claiborne County and a former resident of Middlesboro. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu