We wanted to celebrate some of the highlights and successes of our recent May 7 International Day of Service.
On Saturday, May 7, 50,000 volunteers ralled in over 50 countries in projects that impacted the lives of 500,000 people worldwide. This International Day of Service helped to define what can be accomplished through a network like GSLI’s VOLiNTEER.
Meridian joined in this effort through a volunteer project at DC Food for All, where we packed groceries and delivered food to families in need.
The impact of May 7 can be seen here in a slideshow of some of the best pictures that we collected from the events worldwide. You can also see the global impact on our map above.
One of the highlights of May 7 was India, where over 1,000 people came out to volunteer. Sujit Mahapatra organized nationwide events in 25 cities across the country and 39 locations in the city Bhubaneswar, where he is based. At most of these locations, the project involved recruiting new volunteers as well as mobilizing existing volunteers to spend time at shelter homes, old age homes, slum clusters, and to do fun learning activities. The event was a great success by many yardsticks:
a) The scale of the event in India alone;
b) The global scale of the event. “It was difficult for most people to imagine that it was happening for the first time, and that it was actually created for the first time by us;”
c) “The best part was that it was the first experience of volunteering for a large chunk of those who participated in India;”
d) It was a life changing experience for many. “They have experienced first hand the kind of problems that others face, and they now see that the solution can be so simple, and in their own hands;”
e) Many of these first time volunteers have been motivated to continue volunteering, and they have promised to keep going back to those shelter homes and other locations.
Where is the Global Service Leaders Initiative (GSLI) going from here? First, we will work on growing our network by inviting other project leaders from May 7 to become part of our network.
At the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) in New Orleans, June 6-8, we will be part of a workshop on partnerships. A few members of our international network VOLiNTEER will be traveling to New Orleans to speak at the conference, to share first hand experiences of service movements abroad and to share lessons from the field of the challenges and best practices for partnering across borders. In New Orleans, we will have the opportunity to share the accomplishments of May 7 and to network with U.S. government, NGO, and corporate service and volunteerism leaders.
Also, the “Volunteerism: United We Serve” IVLP alumni group is a finalist for the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. The Department of State will announce the winners on May 23. If chosen as a winner, the group will receive a $35,000 grant to implement the project “VOLiNTEER Day of Service: empowering marginalized communities through volunteering,” which would take place on the UN’s International Volunteer Day, December 5, 2011.
We are currently working with the U.S. Embassy in Madrid to co-host a Regional Service Leaders Summit that is tentatively scheduled for December 12-13.
Thank you for all your help to get us to this point!