For member’s interest, we thought we would share this timely personal reflection from Kenn Allen, the Executive Director of the International Association for Volunteer Effort.

Dear Colleagues:

This was to be a straightforward message to send you the link to IAVE’s annual report for 2018.  But, then, “life happened” as the saying goes.

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Events of the past week throughout the world underscore what we know is an encroaching, terrible darkness in our world – incomprehensibly senseless violence, intentional neglect, destruction of our environment, building walls where once we built bridges.  People are mistreated, excluded and killed because of who they are, what they believe or don’t believe, their race, their gender, their religion, their national origin, their citizenship or lack of it, their sexual orientation.

Yet everywhere bad things happen, there are examples of light cutting through that darkness – in the actions of compassionate national leaders to seek change, in random acts of kindness, in spontaneously organized responses to tragedies by neighbors and strangers alike, in what volunteers are doing every day in every nation on earth, caring and acting and keeping the light alive.

The reality of that light reminds me of what we wrote in IAVE’s Universal Declaration on Volunteering and revised in 2011:

“Volunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society. It brings to life the noblest aspirations of humankind – the pursuit of peace, freedom, opportunity, safety, and justice for all people.

“Volunteering – either through individual or group action – is a way in which:

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  • human values of community, caring, and serving can be sustained and strengthened;
  • individuals can exercise their rights and responsibilities as members of communities, while learning and growing throughout their lives, realizing their full human potential; and,
  • connections can be made across differences that push us apart so that we can live together in healthy, sustainable communities, working together to provide innovative solutions to our shared challenges and to shape our collective destinies.”

The reality of that light reinforces for me the importance of IAVE’s mission:

“to enable leaders of volunteering worldwide to stand in solidarity with one another to promote, support and celebrate volunteering in all of the many ways it happens throughout the world.”

Now, more than ever, we need to commit to stand together and to act together in support of one another and of our shared belief in the power of volunteering to change the world.

Kenn Allen
Interim Executive Director

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