Let’s talk about volunteerism today. My interest in this subject goes way back to when I was a student.

But let me begin by showing appreciation to all our volunteers including myself, they are the reason why I am writing this piece.

Our volunteers live busy lives, yet they sacrifice their time and sleep for a worthy cause.

They share love and joy with the kids we cater to.

They volunteer for the Joy In Giving Foundation and they are our priceless gifts.

I was always looking for an opportunity to volunteer when I was a student Journalist, but I think I did not search too hard, so I never got that chance.

Later, in life, I remember going online to search for organizations that I could volunteer for. I found out from my search that there were so many such voluntary offers available outside my country and that involved incurring some costs including application, flight, and accommodation among others if I wanted to proceed. But not having the money to sponsor myself, I did not pursue it.

The good news is, now I am a volunteer. Are you surprised?  Well, I am the founder of the Joy In Giving Foundation, but I am also the number one volunteer because, at our foundation, every team member is a volunteer.  Again, I think through this foundation, I have the chance to do what I had always wanted to do when I was a student volunteer.

The blessings, satisfaction, and joy we derive from serving the less privileged are enough rewards.  Maybe I can explain it better by quoting what Harriet, one of our volunteers, said after visiting the Volta Home Orphanage for the first time-“The experience was amazing…..It is time we all come together to support these kids who are our future leaders

This may probably be the reason why a lot more people have expressed interest in volunteering for our next project. Welcome aboard! You will enjoy it.

So, who is a volunteer?  According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, “A volunteer is a person who does something, especially for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced to do it or paid to do it.”

This definition is not different from what the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, captured in its 2015 Annual Report which states; “The terms volunteering, volunteerism, and voluntary activities refer to a wide range of activities … undertaken of free will, for the general public good and where the monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor.”

The UNGA goes on further to explain that volunteerism, while universal, is multifaceted, and can be organized and managed formally within structured organizations, especially CSOs, and within governments and the private sector. It can also be run informally, and millions volunteer within informal structures and groups, outside of formally recognized institutions; it is often practiced within the communities where people live and work and can be a lifelong commitment

Well, I did not limit myself to dictionaries and Annual Reports but consulted my bible and I was amazed at the number of scriptures and verses that relate to or support volunteerism. For this article, I will use only three of the verses I came across. 1 John 3:18 admonishes us to demonstrate our love not just by words but by our actions; “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Galatians 6:9  encourages us not to be tired of or give up on doing good;  Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap if we do not give in.” And Titus 3:14 cautions us against becoming unfruitful but rather dedicate our time to do good works; “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”

The truth is, a lot of people especially the young ones are volunteering for organizations or institutions without being aware. Internships and offering a service at any organization without monetary reward at one’s will can be described as volunteerism, right?

For us at Joy In Giving, that sacrifice of one’s time and service is a priceless gift.  It is a gift our volunteers give to the foundation and the children we reach out to. And we do not take this gesture for granted.

In Ghana, some universities and tertiary institutions have included volunteerism in their curricula. I believe this is to teach the students or better still,  inculcate the spirit of giving and serving one’s community without expecting anything in return. In other countries, men and women who occupy very high positions in society, even make time to volunteer.

I will therefore encourage you as you read this, to make time out of your busy schedule to volunteer for a worthy cause. If on the other hand, you are not too busy, perhaps you are even unemployed now, be productive by offering yourself to be a volunteer at any organization that is willing to take you on. It is an activity that must be captured boldly on your Curriculum Vitae, CV, or Resume. And you must be proud to talk about it anytime. Remember today you may be doing it for free but hold on because very soon, that gesture will pay off to your surprise.