Occasionally, I hear these comments, “You don’t really work. You are just a volunteer.” Or, “If you aren’t getting paid, it’s not a job – it’s a hobby.” Well, I totally disagree.
Society pressures us to work hard and earn as much money as possible. Advertisers tell us how much happier we could be if we bought their product. Because of these attitudes, some people do not volunteer their time and they do not understand the value of volunteers.
Our Icelandic ancestors had a very strong work ethic. They had to work hard to survive but they also worked hard on volunteer projects such as building churches and other important buildings for their community, participating in musical and theater productions, writing and publishing their poems and stories, and so many more activities where they did not get paid in money.
Volunteers are the foundation and the lifeblood of many organizations and communities. They give an enormous value and significance to the social, financial, cultural, and general wellbeing of our society. They are passionate about their work (yes, it is work).
A few volunteer statistics: women volunteer more than men, people volunteer more as they age, those that are married or have children volunteer more, and individuals with higher levels of education engage in volunteerism at a much higher rate than those with less education.
In North Dakota, the Volunteer America organization estimates that volunteers gave about $355 million of service last year. A study by Johns Hopkins University shows that volunteers represent 44% of the nonprofit workforce and 68% of total private philanthropy towards many projects the world over. Their study claims that over 5% of the GDP is because of volunteerism.
Most of my volunteer work has been a positive experience. Volunteering within the INL of NA, the INL of Iceland, Snorri Programs, August the Deuce, Lögberg-Heimskringla, and genealogy projects have been very rewarding. I have built new friendships and have been enriched by many people and in countless ways.
As a society, we should support volunteers and recognize where volunteers are making a difference. Pay them with thanks. Or better yet – join in on the fun. Everyone has time or talents to share.
A favorite quote: ‘’Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.’’ – Author Unknown. So, find something that you are passionate about and volunteer today!
If you want to join in on the Icelandic fun and join some interesting people that volunteer their time preserving and promoting our Icelandic heritage, check out www.inlofna.org or www.inl.is or www.lh-inc.ca – or contact me for more info.