You may not have been aware, but this week is National Volunteer Week — a time to thank our nation’s more than 62 million volunteers for the experience and passion they dedicate to improving their communities. Those millions of volunteers’ contributions total an annual economic value of $184 billion.
At AARP, we know how valuable those contributions are in making our communities stronger. In partnership with the nearly 60,000 exceptional volunteers who join us every day, we work to improve the lives of people age 50 and over and their families. AARP volunteers advocate for critical issues, such as updating Social Security and supporting family caregivers, and provide direct services and educational programs, like free tax-preparation assistance, helping drivers stay safe on the roads, mentoring struggling students to become better readers and much, much more.
Why do they do it? Last year, we asked, and here’s what our volunteers told us. The top reason AARP volunteers give their time is to make a difference in their local community.
And we were honored to find that 90 percent strongly or somewhat agree that their volunteer work does make a difference. That tangible difference is what makes all of the effort worthwhile and why 8 in 10 said they were very likely to continue volunteering with AARP this year.
Volunteering at AARP is personal to me, as my parents were members of the AARP chapter in Milburn, N.J., for years. Through their work, I gained a strong appreciation for all those who go out, many in addition to their everyday jobs, and give back to the communities where they live and work. The commitment of our volunteers never ceases to energize me; we are fortunate to have so many dedicated people volunteer their time and brainpower, not only here at AARP, but around the country.
So, during this week in which we honor our nation’s volunteers, please take a moment to reach out to the volunteers in your life. Share your thanks, of course, but more important, let them know that the work they do truly matters. It’s a message they need and deserve to hear. Not just during National Volunteer Week, but year round.
Consider joining their ranks! Visit Create the Good to find causes and opportunities that speak to you.
Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond .