Volunteer Recognition Day is observed every year on April 20. As the name suggests, it is a day to honor, recognize and celebrate the selfless individuals who volunteer their time and energy to help others and promote good causes. Volunteers do all this without expecting compensation or appreciation for their efforts and this is what is so inspiring. Volunteers can be found in all sectors, community kitchens, hospitals, retirement homes, or war zones. Their selfless sacrifice deserves applause from the rest of the world.
History of Volunteer Recognition Day
As the name suggests, Volunteer Recognition Day is a day to recognize, honor, and celebrate people who selflessly volunteer their time, energy, and resources towards helping others without seeking any compensation for themselves. A volunteer has been defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as — “a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.” The act of volunteering is perhaps as old as humanity itself — or close. People have been offering to help and assist others in times of need for eons.
However, the word ‘volunteering’ made its first appearance during the 1630s but only came into full use in 1755. Then, it was construed in a military sense, referring to people who volunteered to join the army. Indeed, the origin of organized volunteering can be traced directly to wartime. Women would volunteer to nurse wounded soldiers on the battlefield, while others would put all their efforts into making uniforms for them. One of the foremost volunteering organizations of all time, the Red Cross, was also founded in response to war. Henry Dunant, who had witnessed injured soldiers being left without adequate medical support in the Battle of Solferino, couldn’t help but take up the matter. He wrote down his ideas in a book called “A Souvenir of Solferino,” which advocated that every army should be made to care for wounded soldiers, regardless of what side they were fighting for.
Ever since, volunteering takes different shapes and forms and transcends various industries. People volunteer to visit old people, some work on weekends at community kitchens, while others travel to foreign lands to help the needy. Volunteering is a noble, worthy act that should be carried out by all of us.
Volunteer Recognition Day timeline
The Red Cross movement is founded by Henry Dunant.
The word ‘volunteering’ comes into use.
The Red Cross is brought to the U.S. by Clara Barton.
Sir George Williams founds the first Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A) in London.
Volunteer Recognition Day FAQs
When was Henry Dunant born?
Henry Dunant was born on May 8, 1828.
Where is the headquarters of the Red Cross?
The headquarters of the Red Cross is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
Who is the president of the Red Cross?
The current president of the International Committee of the Red Cross is Peter Maurer.
How to Observe Volunteer Recognition Day
Appreciate a volunteer
Do you know someone who’s selflessly volunteered for a good cause? Take this opportunity to celebrate them by acknowledging their hard work and appreciating them.
Become a volunteer
The lifeblood of most charitable organizations is the selfless work of volunteers. So take time out to volunteer your services for a cause that’s dear to your heart.
Use the hashtag
Celebrate by posting something insightful about Volunteer Recognition Day online. Use the hashtag #volunteerrecognitionday.
5 Organizations That Rely On Volunteers
The Red Cross
With over 14 million volunteers all over the world, voluntary service is one of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross.
The Peace Corps
The Peace Corps provides volunteering opportunities in the fields of agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth in development.
The United Nations
The United Nations volunteer program has over 9,400 volunteers deployed worldwide and still has room for more.
Amnesty International opens the door for volunteers across all their global offices to provide their services in a wide range of activities.
Volunteers are given the opportunity to volunteer within the U.S. or volunteer abroad in Vietnam, Cook Islands, Tanzania, St. Lucia, Portugal, Poland, Nepal, Peru, Italy, Greece, Ecuador, Cuba, and China.
Why Volunteer Recognition Day is Important
We get to honor hardworking volunteers
Volunteers do their work without recognition or accolades. Volunteer Recognition Day provides a rare opportunity to celebrate these tireless superheroes and recognize their impactful work.
It promotes volunteering
This day also throws a challenge to everyone, daring all of us to leave our comfort zones. It highlights how vital volunteering is to our society and encourages more people to become volunteers.
It commemorates past volunteer heroes
This day commemorates the heroic volunteers, whose loving and courageous acts have helped change our world. We’re reminded of their sacrifice and challenged to follow in their footsteps.
Volunteer Recognition Day dates