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Who We Are ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


V.T. readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.

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~ April 2003 Topics~

Dear Readers:

I had the privilege recently to be the keynote speaker for a group of senior citizen volunteers during their annual volunteer recognition event. As always, I gain more from these events than I give because I leave there with my own spirit renewed! Many of you have asked me for resources for speeches, thoughtful quotes, and advice on what to say to volunteers to communicate just how much they are valued. This month I’m reprinting my speech to stimulate your own thinking. Feel free to use any part of it you wish for your own event. I only ask that you credit “Ask Connie at” if you reprint it. My thanks to Hugh Michael Brown for his assistance, and my best wishes to each of you during National Volunteer Week, April 27 to May 3!


Volunteerism is deeply rooted in our country’s history and culture. From the time of early settlers when they had a barn raising, neighbors came from near and far to help. The men built the barn and the women provided the food. Times have changed and so has volunteerism, but not the spirit of it. We don’t exactly raise barns anymore and just as many women would be building them if we did, but we do still make a dramatic difference in our communities and in our quality of life through volunteering.

If we took a satellite photo of your organization today you’d see that your work is part of a much greater movement in today’s society. 44% of all American adults volunteer today, which is 83.9 million Americans. This represents the equivalent of more than 9 million full-time employees!

But in addition to the statistics about volunteering there is the more important issue of increased quality of life. I understand that through your efforts every year:

  • You have monthly enrichment programs
  • You work at the annual Spring Fair
  • You distribute your monthly newsletter
  • You greet new residents
  • You provide personal assistance for residents
  • You work on the Oral History project
  • And you work in your library

These are just a few of the many ways in which you maintain the vitality and closeness of your community. Simply put, you care and you’re willing to give to others. It is important for us to be connected to our community and to enjoy that sense of belonging. Just a couple of months ago I moved from a high-rise condo in Washington to a little house in a charming old neighborhood in Bethesda. Within the first week my neighbors on either side of the house had introduced themselves and offer any help I needed settling in. Then we had that blizzard on President’s Day weekend and after it stopped snowing all I could see out my window was a sea of white. Well, I bundled myself up and armed with my shovel I decided to see if I could find my car. I wasn’t alone! Before long neighbors all around me had come out with the same idea. It turned into a huge block party! I got acquainted with more neighbors and one of them even helped me shovel out my car. That’s people giving to other people!

There is an old proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times.” Well, these are certainly interesting times today! We are besieged by government budget cuts, threats of terror, and even the rumble of war. Many people despair that clouds are indeed gray.

But volunteers like you are a microcosm of a larger America. You are diverse, with differing backgrounds, differing experiences, and differing interests. You are a resilient, like-minded group of people – a steadfast group who are determined to give whatever you can for as long as you are able. This is the true spirit of volunteerism!

Within each of us is a powerful design for living. Each of you demonstrates that every single day by the many ways in which you enrich your life and the lives of others. I hope that each of you will continue to seek the silver of lining in those clouds. For truly, in doing so lies your strength!

I’m going to close with one of my favorite tributes to special volunteers like you. It’s called:

Valuable Is the Work You Do

V aluable is the work you do.
O utstanding is how you always come through.
L oyal, sincere and full of good cheer,
U ntiring in your efforts throughout the year.
N otable are the contributions you make.
T rustworthy in every project you take.
E ager to reach your every goal.
E ffective in the way you fulfill your role.
R eady with a smile like a shining star,
S pecial and wonderful—that’s what you are.

Thank you for continuing to maintain the vitality of your community and for enriching the lives of others through your work. And, personally I want to thank you for continuing the important tradition of volunteerism in our society. You are a role model for all of us and I tip my hat to each of you!

Hint: check out for more resources on poems, inspirational sayings and more.

Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at

Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
VOICE: 301-530-8233
FAX: 301-530-8299

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