April is National Volunteer Recognition month. As the month draws to a close, we acknowledge once again that volunteers have been essential to the recovery of the Schoharie Valley following Irene. There are so many memories of so many exceptional volunteers doing extraordinary things, as well as many words to describe their dedication and contributions.
What words come to mind for you when you think of extraordinary volunteers? Some words that others have suggested are: impact, hero, gifted, sharing, supportive, passionate, courageous, willing, contributing, energetic, compassionate, positive influence, fun. I have chosen three words that describe extraordinary volunteers to me.
The first word is humble. Outstanding volunteers humble themselves to the cause or mission. In the early weeks following the flood, many people stepped forward and willingly worked in adverse conditions doing jobs they had never done before, for the cause. There are many photographs of volunteers covered from head to toe in thick, smelly, flood mud as they assisted homeowners muck out basements and first floors. Or pictures of people sorting through lawn debris after raking, diligently hunting for lost jewelry, photos, or keepsakes. That humble spirit of willingness to do whatever is required continues to this day.
The second word is commitment. Extraordinary volunteers commit to the mission. For some people that means working day after day, week after week, month after month with SALT. For others, it means taking on a project and seeing it through until it has reached completion. For still others, it is being a person who always helps with certain tasks that fall within their giftedness. Whatever it looks like, outstanding volunteers are committed to the cause and utilize their time and talents for the benefit of the Schoharie Valley.
The third word is multiplication. The extraordinary volunteer understands the need to multiply the work efforts in order to keep SALT’s mission (“SALT rebuilds resilient and sustainable communities”) moving forward. The saying “many hands make light work” certainly applies. However, the personal touch that extraordinary volunteers share is even more important, because it is in multiplying positive relationships that accomplishments can happen beyond anyone’s expectations.
Each of these words brings faces to mind…faces of extraordinary volunteers that have advanced the work of SALT beyond our wildest dreams. It is because of each of these people that we are filled with deep gratitude for their humility, their long-standing commitment, and their understanding of the need for multiplication of efforts.