International Volunteer Day 2019

Yesterday we held our end of year volunteer party, to celebrate their achievements and progress of the society over the past year. At the party, President Ed Percival thanked the numerous volunteers in attendance for all their work, particularly during the two weeks of Rootstech, when so many volunteers extended themselves to ensure that the society’s presence at the conference was strong and that the society’s premises ran well to accommodate open days including national and international visitors, library talks and tours, and extra hours of opening.

This is a time of reflection and a time of planning for the coming year. Only days ago on 5 December, it was International Volunteer Day. According to the United Nations, our volunteers are a part of an estimated one billion people worldwide who make a difference to their communities by their volunteerism. The UN talks about the importance of volunteers in achieving sustainable development of local, national and international communities. The 2019 theme of IVD was 'Volunteer for an Inclusive Future’, highlighting volunteerism’s capacity for bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to work inclusively for the common good. 

Since I commenced in the role of Volunteer Manager four months ago I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with so many of our volunteers, and so pleased to discover such a diverse and dedicated cohort: we have people who live nearby, people who travel distances each week to come in, and people who volunteer from very far away; people who have become skilled in multiple roles, people who want to learn more and teach others; people who juggle volunteering with study and family and life; people who are motivated to assist others, to document the past, to acquire skills, and to indulge their passion for family history.

From the UN’s statement on International Volunteer Day:

By empowering people to act, and by increasing interactions between groups, volunteering can promote recognition of the inherent value of all people ... Volunteerism is universal and, when accessible to everyone, can become a powerful equaliser. More investment in volunteering as an opportunity to reduce social distance, by creating spaces and opportunities to build empathy and solidarity, is critical given the challenges the world faces now and in the future. 

In our Society of Genealogists microcosm, we see that the society faces its own set of challenges and that our volunteers are critical to its sustainable development. 

With these things in mind, for the new year I am planning a central volunteer information bank, facilitation of strategic knowledge sharing amongst volunteers and enhanced support of our offsite volunteer community. I also look forward to welcoming new volunteers from all walks of life.

The staff and executive of the Society of Genealogists extend our gratitude to all our volunteers and wish you all a peaceful Christmas and happy new year.

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