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United Way Blog

International Volunteer Day:  A Global Celebration of Volunteers

In recent months I’ve enjoyed sharing news about volunteering from around the world:  Australia, Taiwan, and RomaniaInternational Volunteer Day (IVF), celebrated each year on December 5, is the perfect day to shine a spotlight one more time on inspiring volunteer engagement in places outside the U.S.

In October, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Latin America regional meeting of United Ways held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  We discussed strategies for growing employee engagement through volunteering. It was also a great opportunity to learn more about the wide range of volunteer activities that United Ways throughout Latin America are leading for their corporate partners to improve the education, financial stability and health of children and families in their countries. 

For example, Fondo Unido de Guatemala rallied hundreds of volunteers, including employees from Proctor and Gamble, Iniciativa T, Inforum, Pepsico, Telofonica, and Sanofi Aventis to build three school houses, a playground, and a kitchen, and plant 185 trees in the community of Bello Amanecer, Guatemala. The new school, Nuevo Amanecer, will be providing an education for 300 children and, it is hoped, the opportunity for a better future.

United Way Brasil connects youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with volunteer mentors through programs like Investir Vale a Pena (Investing Pays Off). With the Investir Vale a Pena curriculum, funded by Merrill Lynch, volunteers teach about financial planning, credit, career development and leadership. Companies participating in the program include PwC, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Morgan Stanley, Intel Corporation, Monsanto, Deloitte, 3M, Adobe, Votoramtin and Timken.  Active across five Brazilian states, the program has mobilized more than 2,600 employees volunteering for 31,000 hours to support more than 3,600 young people since 2003. Today 10 of PwC’s 16 offices offer mentoring programs in partnership with United Way Brasil.

Calentando Corazones-- which literally means “warming hearts” – is a campaign created by United Way Perú to engage employees of its associated companies to help struggling families.  In connection with United Way Day of Action on June 21, in 2014 United Way Perú collected more than 2,400 blankets and 3,600 pounds of clothes. Employee volunteers from Deloitte and other companies helped donate the blankets and clothing in different regions, including highland areas 4,100 meters above sea level, to families that live in poor conditions and that need them the most to protect themselves from the extremely cold weather.

Established in 1985 by the United Nations, International Volunteer Day is a chance to celebrate and thank volunteers across the globe.  UN Volunteers focuses year-round on promoting peace and development through volunteering, and has a campaign, Volunteer Action Counts, to promote the value of volunteering and point to examples of great projects throughout the world. On International Volunteer Day, I hope you will join me in saluting and celebrating volunteers and their commitment to advancing the common good! A great way to join the celebration is to share the story of your volunteer action here.