Volunteering in America traces its roots back to the founding of the United States. Ben Franklin established a volunteer fire department in 1736 which has spawned over 19,000 volunteer fire departments today. While touring America in the 1800s, Alexis de Tocqueville observed Americans’ unique ability to identify a societal problem and then come together to resolve the issue through an association. Essentially, creating the nonprofit sector which today relies heavily on volunteers to deliver its services and fulfill its various missions.
In our second year, Start 1 Spark identified increasing volunteer opportunities as one of its strategic goals for 2023. Volunteer engagement is a crucial step for Start 1 Spark to continue to meet the needs of our two partner middle schools and expand to additional schools in the area. Since September 2022 our volunteers have contributed over 159 hours with their time and talents supporting marketing, copywriting, and event activities. Furthermore, volunteers have purchased, made, and delivered 2,328 snack kits from May 2022 thru March 2023. Snack kits alone are a financial donation of $5,191.44 which allows monetary donations to go towards music instruments, club fees, and other non-in-kind needs.
But what do volunteers get out of contributing? As this month’s spotlight volunteer, Jill Ascari, says, “The purposeful engagement in giving one's time, energy, and/or resources can be an important aspect of self care.” Volunteers routinely tell me how much fun they had bonding with family, teammates, or colleagues when putting together snacks kits. Our student volunteers are excited to use their creativity in developing graphics, infographics, and stories for a cause to which they relate. By donating their time, our volunteers feel connected to the RVA community and satisfied they contributed to Start 1 Spark’s mission of improving the lives of area youth.
Start 1 Spark’s volunteers have directly impacted 838 students in our two partner middle schools over the past year. By fulfilling the opportunities ranging from skilled tasks to event personnel to group or corporate activities, Start 1 Spark is grateful our volunteers generously gave their time to support the dreams of area youth. THANK YOU, VOLUNTEERS! Your engagement makes the difference between a student on the sidelines and a student having FUN!