For International Volunteer Day December 5, 2015 CVSA launched a nationwide Commnuity Education and mobilization campaign to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the U.S. and worldwide to bring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to volunteer organizations across the country who serve people in need and organize for change and have a direct and historic interest in seeing that these goals are implementd in the U.S. See 2030 Sustainable Development Goals page.
International Volunteer Day - December 5th, 2014
Thank you to all who attended CVSA's 2014 International Volunteer Day event, brought food, and soaked in this inspiring documentary!
International Volunteer Day 2013
Focus on Youth
Thursday December 5, 2013 at 6pm to 8:30 PM
International Volunteer Day 2012
2012 marked CVSA’s first annual celebration of International Volunteer Day. “At CVSA, every day is International Volunteer Day, but this year we kicked off what will be an annual event to highlight and strengthen the work of non-governmental volunteer organizations throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world who are striving to reverse the trends of poverty, marginalization and systemic injustice,” explained Susan Angus, Executive Director of CVSA.
Held at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, New York on December 5th, the event was hosted by the Student Government Association with the theme: “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Student Government Vice President Dan Campbell took time from her very busy schedule of classes, work and applying for scholarships to do the legwork on campus, while CVSA brought community-based organizations in need of volunteers to participate in the event.
International Volunteer Day (IVD) has been celebrated around the world on December 5th since 1985 when the commemorative day was established by the United Nations for the purpose of giving recognition to, and promoting the efforts of, volunteers internationally. IVD especially recognizes volunteer efforts with non-government organizations involved in development work in poor countries.
CVSA’s IVD program opened with a panel of three speakers from local New York-based organizations that have been responding to urgent disaster relief and recovery needs in low-income communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy or have been organizing to fight policies that have created dangerous global warming conditions. Vivian Truong of CAAAV/Organizing Asian Communities; Michele Cortez, co-founder of Smallwater; and Ling Tsou of United for Action each spoke passionately about the work of their organizations and their need for more volunteers.
CVSA Executive Director Susan Angus presented "A Thirsty World," a film by world-renowned aerial photographer and environmentalist, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, in a pre-U.S. release showing by special arrangement with the filmmaker. The film portrays how some non-government organizations (NGOs) around the world have taken the initiative to address the systemic problem of lack of access to clean drinking water.
Kai Olso-Sawyer from the Water and Energy Programs of GRACE Communications Foundation joined Angus for a question & answer session after the film, highlighting for the students how the global water crisis relates to their lives in New York.
Several of CVSA’s member organizations staffed volunteer information tables during the event: All Stars Project, CAAAV/Organizing Asian Communities, Hour Children, Smallwater, United for Action and Volunteer Crew participated in this volunteer fair.
Over 70 students attended various portions of the event throughout the afternoon. Moved by what she heard from the panel presentations, Freda Raitelu, a LaGuardia Community College honors student, volunteered to organize a brigade of LaGuardia students for disaster relief work in the Rockaways, one of the most devastated communities. They asked CVSA to coordinate the trip for them with the Smallwater organization, which was formed the day after Hurricane Sandy and has been mobilizing volunteer crews continuously ever since from a house right in the middle of one of the devastated communities. (See CVSA's Spring 2013 Edition of ITEMS.)
Hour Children was represented at the event by their volunteer coordinators, Stephanie Quito and Jessica Truman. Hour Children serves 100 to 145 women and their children each year — mothers who are incarcerated or just coming out of incarceration — by providing care for the children, advocacy for the family, transitional housing and family reunion counseling, among other services. “We feel that events like this spread the much-needed awareness of vital issues occurring in our society,” Truman told CVSA. “I could see that this International Volunteer Day was beneficial to everyone who attended. We certainly gained more volunteers for the Hour Children programs. As a result of attending this event, although Hour Children is not directly involved in Sandy Disaster Relief work because most of the women and families we work with are not in the areas that were hit by the storm, we have decided to establish a relationship with the Smallwater organization in the Rockaways who had several representatives there. We are organizing a service day to bring volunteers on a weekend to help with their relief efforts there. We really appreciated the opportunity to attend this event, meet the other organizations and see this spectacular film,” Truman further explained.
Why International Volunteer Day?
CVSA participated in NGO conferences and briefings at the UN in 2001 for International Year of Volunteers (IYV2001). The purpose of IYV2001 was to complement the UN’s launch, in 2000, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — a set of time-bound targets to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women — by boosting awareness of the important role of volunteers and volunteer organizations in developing ways and means for achieving sustainable development while accomplishing the MDGs.
The UN Volunteer Programme (UNVP) has been bringing attention to the role of volunteers in development every year through International Volunteer Day commemorations. This year UNVP gave IVD 2012 the theme of “Celebrate our commitment and hope for a better world,” with a primary focus on educating people about the impact of volunteering on peace and sustainable development.
“CVSA decided it was most appropriate for us to put the focus of our International Volunteer Day event on the impact of the thousands of concerned volunteers who had been giving their time and labor on a daily basis to urgently needed disaster relief work with local community-based organizations here in New York since the October 29 hurricane disaster,” said Gus Karakatsanis, CVSA Administrative Assistant. “We felt this theme was especially relevant in light of the lack of responsible action by all levels of government and official aid agencies. It was volunteers organized by independent community groups who came to help those without heat, electricity, water and food for weeks, not the official agencies responsible for their safety and well-being,” Karakatsanis explained.
“We knew that we had to put the focus of our International Volunteer Day event on getting more people involved with the independently organized efforts that were doing the most work toward saving lives and rebuilding communities. In addition, the growing number and frequency of superstorms and natural disasters around the world due to the global problem of climate change — Hurricane Sandy being another such example — makes the theme ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ even more appropriate.”
Think Globally, Act Locally
Students gained a global perspective on the serious problem of lack of access to clean water, a condition faced by millions of people around the world, through the showing of A Thirsty World. As the film makes clear, this problem is being exacerbated by the effects of global warming which is caused by the high level of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from the volume of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, that industrial countries of the northern hemisphere have burned over the last 50 years.
“The policies of the U.S. government with respect to energy, food production and water allow U.S. corporate interests to pollute water supplies at home and abroad. This has a direct effect on the lives — and deaths — of millions of people in many countries on every continent, because the resources needed for life are shared by everyone on this planet. The problem is, a minority is using or abusing the majority of those resources,” explained Angus in the discussion after the film, “and that is something we have to change.”
The UN Development Programme stated in the forward to the 126-page “State of the World’s Volunteerism Report” issued in 2011 on the Tenth Anniversary of IYV2001:
“Volunteer action by which people unite in shared endeavors toward a common purpose is a feature of most societies. As such, it touches the lives of vast numbers of people all over the world. Volunteers are motivated by values like those of justice, equality and freedom as expressed in the United Nations Charter. A society that supports and encourages different forms of volunteering is likely to be a society that also promotes the well-being of its citizens. A society which fails to recognize and facilitate the contributions of volunteers deprives itself of contributions to public well-being which could be made.”
On International Volunteer Day 2012, CVSA put the spotlight on the volunteer efforts here in New York City towards reversing the situation of utter devastation and distress faced by tens of thousands of poor and working families, many of them immigrants from all over the world, due not only to the hurricane, but also from the poverty and unemployment conditions that existed before the hurricane.
CVSA calls on people to volunteer with and support CVSA throughout the year to strengthen the movement of volunteer service and action at home and abroad. For CVSA, every day is an international volunteer day, dedicated to organizing our volunteer power to build a better world. Please join us.