National Volunteer Week – April 23-29, 2017 – A week set aside to celebrate volunteerism; a perfect time to say Thank You to honor the people who freely give of their time to help so many organizations and benefit worthy causes. Volunteers truly make a difference. They are the foundation for success for most nonprofit organizations. For animal welfare groups and animal shelters/rescues it is essential to have a core group of dedicated volunteers to assist them in accomplishing their mission and goals.
Volunteer hours are tallied, totaled, and estimated to calculate the economic benefits of volunteerism. The results* are astonishing. For 2015, nationally 62.6 volunteers spent 7.8 billion hours in service with an estimated value of $184 billion. The figures for the Las Vegas Valley are also impressive with 315,557 volunteers giving 29.3 million hours with an estimated value of $719 million. These numbers do not provide the complete picture of all the good that is done through the efforts of dedicated volunteers. The pet community of Las Vegas is fortunate to have many volunteers who donate their time helping animal shelters/rescues, advocacy work, adoptions, etc.
Volunteers go above and beyond – providing benefits that can’t be calculated — offering compassionate caring. Yet for the volunteer there is a cost for that compassionate caring. People who work in a “helping profession” either in a paid or volunteer position are at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue. It is a real risk for people who work in animal rescue, animal shelters, and animal welfare and animal rights. They’re always dealing with not enough money, not enough people, and too many pets that need homes and not enough homes. They deal with pets who have been abused or have been severely neglected. The list is endless!
We want to also recognize and enlarge our concept of volunteers to include the caring and compassionate people who go above and beyond in their paid positions; the many who give beyond the time specified in their job descriptions. The boundaries between their personal and professional lives are extremely flexible and thin. Care giving is draining, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The symptoms of compassion fatigue include hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude. Sometimes it is important to “name it to claim it”, just knowing there is a name for what you are experiencing is helpful. And that you are not alone, help is available. Some helpful tips can be found at https://www.petfinder.com/pro/for-shelters/compassion-fatigue/
Volunteering is very important – there are so many ways to offer your time and talents – take the necessary steps today to become a valued volunteer!
Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. ~ Marian Wright Edelman