As part of our guest blog series for National Volunteer Week, we invited Corrine Coombe, Volunteering New Zealand’s Board Member and an avid volunteer, to share her thoughts on volunteer recognition. It counts to be counted.
Most of us will be aware that volunteers come in all shapes and sizes completing a wide range of roles in every nook and cranny of society, yet more often than not we only celebrate those that volunteer through an official avenue. We are fortunate that we live in a country where the profile of volunteering is growing; it is being celebrated through awards like New Zealander of the Year and given awareness on Student and National Volunteer Weeks. Yet there are many pockets of volunteers in our communities that don’t receive any recognition at all.
Lack of recognition is not because the value isn’t the same as official volunteering roles, but because often the volunteer doesn’t count what they do as volunteering themselves. It might be seen as just being part of the community were they live, the church they attend and being part of the larger whanau on the Marae. It might be seen as doing their part to support their local school, being a tidy kiwi or even helping out extended family. As New Zealanders we are well known for being humble creatures with, that “mucking in” attitude. But is that any excuse for glazing over all the tea makers, the lawn mowers, the flower arrangers, the rubbish “pickerupers”, or the Nans mixing up the steam puds for the Hangi.
Tips for volunteer recognition
So how do we make those who for so long been uncounted feel counted?
Start first in your own backyard, who do you know that does one of those hidden jobs. Thank the parent who cleans up all the paint brushes at Kindy while they are waiting for mat time to finish. Thank the ladies who make the cups of tea and thank the old mates for mowing the lawns each week at the community centre. Then take your thanks a step further and write a note and leave it as a nice surprise or do some baking for their morning tea. Most importantly remind them that they are valued and what they bring is valuable.
Author: Corrine Coombe.
Corrine works as an administrator by day, but her real passion is volunteering. From sausage sizzles and car washes, to organising community education classes and fundraising fashion shows she gets involved in it all. Corrine is also a VNZ Board Member.
Volunteer recognition resources:
National Volunteer Week website. Everything you need for celebrating your volunteers. From certificates to social media banners.