Oh, the power of a new year. It is that natural point in time where we look back, take stock, look ahead and dream.
When we look back at 2013 we are moved with gratitude for the gifts of time and talent that so many in our community share. There is no way to fully catalog the sheer mass and impact volunteers have on our community; there are too many places and ways for people to give back to count. But if we were to try and calculate volunteerism, the Corporation for National and Community Service reports that Asheville’s volunteer rate is higher than the national average at 30.4 percent and ranks 34 among mid-sized cities. We are proud of this ranking but we know we can do even more.
When most of us think of volunteering, many think about direct service. Whether it’s helping youth in sports, assisting the elderly, the homeless, mentoring and coaching students on academic performance, or neighbors helping each other, volunteers make a tangible difference in the lives of people every day.
But just as important, and often forgotten as a volunteer opportunity, is leadership on boards, committees and task forces which is critical to the health of non-profit and public organizations. These volunteers provide the mental energy, community connections and fundraising skills to direct and drive organizations further toward accomplishing their goals. We thank all these volunteers for their important gift.
As you ponder your 2014 resolutions, we ask that you keep volunteerism high on your list and while you are at it, bring along a friend, family member, or colleague. It is this kind of collective action that makes our community strong.
United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County is committed to collective action; providing opportunities for everyone to give, advocate and volunteer on important issues related to education, income and health. Our volunteer center, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, is a valuable resource for area nonprofits wishing to enhance their volunteer management skills and list their volunteer opportunities online. We are also the perfect way for you to get started on your next volunteer adventure; just use our database to find short and long-term volunteer projects that fit your interests and schedule. We really do make it easy for you to give back in meaningful ways, in fact last year more than 3,000 individuals connected to volunteer opportunities through Hands On alone.
As we approach the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service we know many are looking for opportunities to answer Dr. King’s question: “What are you doing for others?” Join us on January 20 for the MLK Inter-generational Day of Service organized by Hands On and Land of Sky Regional Council’s Senior Corps Programs. This family-friendly event will feature multiple, quick impact volunteer projects that benefit hundreds of children, veterans, seniors and others. We hope you’ll make January 20 a day ON, not a day off. To register for this or any other project, please visit: www.handsonasheville.org
We thank you all again for your gifts of time, talent and treasure and we look forward to being your partner in 2014.
David Bailey's opinion piece was published in the Sunday edition of the Citizen Times 1/5/14.