National Volunteer Week & Global Youth Service Day

As the spring ramps up and more and more volunteer opportunities become available with the warmer weather, there are two nationwide opportunities to re-engage and celebrate the volunteers that make everything possible: Global Youth Service Day and National Volunteer Week.

Global Youth Service Day, which falls on the weekend of April 21-23, is the largest service event in the world that engages children and youth under 25 and recognizes their contributions. While Habitat is somewhat limited in volunteer opportunities for youth under 16, there are plenty of ways for them to get involved in your affiliate and GYSD is a perfect opportunity to start planning!

  • Engage with your local Youth United chapter, Campus Chapter, or Young Professionals group (or work with local organizations to start your own!).
  • Engage youth in fundraising and advocacy efforts. You could host a LEGO building competition, engage with youth during Act! Speak! Build! Week, and invite youth to community events and meetings to speak with the public or community leaders about their experience with Habitat as a volunteer or a part of a homeowner family.
  • Work with a local school to start a Habitat Reader program to improve literacy, give children more access to books, and teach children and families about all the ways that Habitat serves the community and the world.

You can find more ways to get involved with youth through Habitat here and more information about GYSD here.

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown bigger and better each year since. This is a time to celebrate the amazing work your affiliate’s volunteers do for your organization and your community, as well as the work your volunteer managers do. Here are some simple ways to recognize volunteers at your affiliate next week during National Volunteer Week (April 23-29):

  • Have a calendar of birthdays for regular volunteers, and send out a card or have something special waiting for them on site for their birthday and as thanks for their service.
  • Hand-write thank-you cards for volunteers, and have staff and the homeowner partner sign them as well.
  • Celebrate volunteer milestones—50 hours, 100 hours, 5 years, etc.—with a celebration or small recognition that is personalized to the volunteer. Not all volunteers are comfortable going up on stage and accepting an award; they might be fine with a handshake and a cup of coffee as thanks.
  • Get them Habitat-specific gifts and personalize them to their service with you—the number of hours, the number of years, special events they’ve participated in—such as a hard hat, a hammer, a water bottle, or a coffee mug.
  • Hold an informal volunteer breakfast or brunch where volunteers can stop in for some snacks and coffee. It doesn’t have to be a sit-down affair, and it can give you an extra chance outside of their normal volunteer experience to get to know your affiliate and staff (and perhaps learn other ways they can engage with your affiliate).

For more information about National Volunteer Week, you can visit here.

Bridget Ferrigan

AmeriCorps Program Manager