Friday, January 22, 2010
Volunteering and Offering Hope
If you have a pillowcase, minimal sewing skills, bias tape, and elastic, you can volunteer to make a dress. Or as a carpenter said about his seamstress wife, “She’s building a dress?”
As we’ve seen through the recent tragedy in Haiti, volunteerism is the motor that runs many aid agencies. Two days ago, school girls in the United States made dresses for displaced girls in Haiti, and they made them from pillowcases. Hope 4 Kids International will soon send the dresses to rubble strewn Haiti and offer a glimmer of optimism.
Volunteers at Hope 4 Kids International seek to furnish every girl in underprivileged nations with a dress. Across the United States, pillowcases are sewn into sun dresses. In a tailoring school in Ugandi, parent organization, Hope 4 Women International, furnished pillowcases and instructions so that local women could make the simple dresses and also teach the teens in the area.
By also furnishing treadle sewing machines to women in remote villages, they can then make dresses for their daughters even when electricity is not available. Interested? Patterns and step-by-step video instructions can be found at www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com.
In this country, 44 percent of adults volunteer, that’s 83.9 million workers. The Independent Sector Survey, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, measures the generosity of Americans based on giving monies and volunteer hours. A recent survey found that 89 percent of households give an average of $1,620 per year. Their volunteer hours represent the equivalent of over 9 million full time wage-earners, a value of 239 billion dollars.
Another program, Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP), helps people over the age of 55 find meaningful volunteer work in their communities. They state, “Anyone willing to lend their skills to make a difference is welcome to join RSVP and receive its referral services and benefits.” RSVP has nearly 500,000 volunteers across the nation who help adults learn to read, deliver meals to the homebound elderly, and assist in disaster preparedness and response.
In addition, many retired persons volunteer at non-profit groups, who benefit from the life-learned and work-related skills of retired seniors. RSVP volunteers work in libraries, community centers, schools, law enforcement agencies, parks, and hospitals. Marge Wright, whose volunteer work was spotlighted in the regional RSVP newsletter, trained to become a mentor to juveniles who are at risk of incarceration. She listens carefully to the young man she is mentoring and finds ways to connect through his interests.