December 5 is International Volunteer Day, a day to pause and reflect on the contribution that volunteers make to society. It was created by the United Nations in 1985 to promote volunteering around the world and this year’s them is ‘Together we can’ which emphasizes the power of community, and that by working together we can achieve great things.
The theme reminds me of the quote by American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The United Nations has identified volunteering as central to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals which replaced the Millennium Development Goals and are set to guide international development through to 2030. Unlike the MDGs which were primarily targeted at ‘developing countries’, the SDGs apply to all countries around the world and acknowledge that the challenges we face globally are all of ours to own.
So the question is, what are doing (or going to do) to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about in one of the 17 focus areas of the SDGs would be a good start. What’s more, by volunteering you can make new friends, utilise existing skills or develop new ones, gain some valuable work experience, grow your networks and have some fun! You could also join Victoria Plus, Victoria University’s service and leadership development programme in which you give back to your community and gain skills that will impress employers.
For today though, take time to acknowledge the one billion people around the world that share their time and skills for the greater good.
P.S. If you’re interested in doing some volunteer work, check out CareerHub, Volunteer Wellington, Seek Volunteer, Do Good Jobs or contact your favourite local community organisation and ask how you can get involved.