National Volunteer Week is a great chance to acknowledge and show volunteers appreciation for the work they do to improve their communities. Here are a few ways to show support.
Updated July 11, 2022
National Volunteer Week
April is National Volunteer Month, but from April 19 through the 25, we’re celebrating National Volunteer Week and raising awareness about why volunteering for older adults is so important.
National Volunteer Week is the time to thank volunteers across the US and Canada (and beyond!) who willfully donate their time, energy, and resources – particularly those assisting first-hand with the coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, National Volunteer Month focuses on supporting and honoring volunteerism.
During this month, nonprofits typically promote special initiatives and appreciation events. However, this year will be different because of social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
National Volunteer Week History
The Canadian government founded National Volunteer Week to acknowledge the contributions made by women during World War II. Although observances declined after the War, they resumed at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. Then, in 1990, the Canadian government officially recognized National Volunteer Week.
In the US, former president Richard Nixon issued an executive order establishing National Volunteer Week. Nixon urged communities around the country to “recognize volunteers by observing the week with special ceremonies to honor those who have given countless hours for the betterment of our communities and the American way of life.” Since then, individuals and organizations of every stripe have done their part to improve their communities through volunteer work.
Why Volunteering Matters To Seniors
National Volunteer Week is a great chance to acknowledge and show volunteers appreciation for their work to improve their communities.
Older adults are a core component of many important local projects and a valuable part of volunteer networks around the country. For example, in 2018, an estimated 935,000 adults age 55 and older gave more than 495 million service hours in New York – worth nearly $13.9 billion annually. Additionally, volunteering for older adults supports healthy aging – even just two hours a week has been shown to help.
Greg Olsen, acting director of the New York State Office for the Aging, says, “Older adults are the backbone of our communities, and their social, economic, intellectual, and civic contributions are essential to making New York a better place to live, work and grow older.”
Volunteerism among older adults isn’t uncommon. For example, a 2010 study by the Sloan Center for Aging and Work at Boston College found that adults 50 and older are more likely to engage in volunteer activities. Likewise, 52.9% of respondents in a 2009 survey conducted by The Hartford said they took part in volunteer work, compared to 45.2% of adults younger than 50.
The studies showed that seniors in early retirement often volunteered time for managerial or professional tasks. However, the food collection and office assistance rate rose as they aged. The general trend for formal volunteerism among older adults with SeniorCorps in 2015 revealed:
- 23.5% of seniors volunteered
- 11 million participated in volunteer activities
- 1.9 billion hours of service
- $45.5 billion in service contributions
Volunteer opportunities for older people in Boston can connect seniors to various projects according to their interests, location, and time commitment.
How To Support National Volunteer Week During COVID
The coronavirus outbreak has turned everything upside-down and forced unforeseen changes on everyone and everything – as well as National Volunteer Week.
In the past, this week was an excellent chance for nonprofits to organize volunteers and develop new recruitment initiatives. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing regulations, and stay-at-home orders in many states, these are not possible – or advisable.
Although regular ideas for projects, events, and appreciation aren’t viable, you can still acknowledge and engage those who routinely donate their time, efforts, and resources. For example, you can:
- Send a note to volunteers at nonprofits thanking them for their work.
- Leave a message on an organization’s page on social media platforms.
- Spread awareness about volunteer groups in your area with others.
- Donate food, supplies, or other resources – it doesn’t have to be money.
MeetCaregivers Can Help
Meetcaregivers connects seniors to qualified, affordable caregivers. We want to ensure seniors continue to have access to trained caregivers that can address the day-to-day needs of this unique community. Call 1 (888) 541-1136 or Find A Caregiver to get help today.
For more information and senior resources, visit the Blog.
- Computer Systems Group, et al. “NVW 2019 – National Volunteer Week (NVW) – Campaigns – Volunteer Canada.” NVW 2019 – National Volunteer Week (NVW) – Campaigns – Volunteer Canada, 20 Apr. 2020, volunteer.ca/nvw2019.
- Doing Good Is Good For You. Doing Good Is Good For You, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ybxqp3n5.
- Morand, Tatiana. “How to Celebrate National Volunteer Month in 2020.” Wild Apricot Blog, 30 Mar. 2020, https://tinyurl.com/ybt63qa8.
- “National Volunteer Week.” Mercy Housing, 9 Apr. 2019, https://tinyurl.com/yd77nnz2.
- “Office for the Aging Marks National Volunteer Week.” Rome Daily Sentinel, https://tinyurl.com/y8pxwrej.
- “Older Adults (Age 65 ).” Corporation for National and Community Service, https://tinyurl.com/y9zdy52d.