Giving People Across the Globe Something They Treasure – A Way to Help
Today we celebrate International Volunteer Day to recognize global volunteerism as a key to sustainable development. The highlight of this year’s International Volunteer Day event at the United Nations will be the introduction of IMPACT 2030, a global collaboration between the United Nations and the private sector, designed to mobilize corporate volunteers to aid the achievement of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Points of Light is a founding partner of the initiative and members of our Corporate Service Council have been actively involved in advancing the effort. On this day, we’re also recognizing exceptional volunteers around the world. Meet Deva-Dee Siliee, today’s Daily Point of Light Award honoree, and nominate someone you know as a Point of Light.
Her conversation about citizen action began around a coffee table in New York.
That’s where Deva-Dee Siliee remembers talking about what citizens could do to contribute to the sustainable development of the island of Curaçao, which had just achieved constitutional status as a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
A U.S. citizen and Columbia University grad, Siliee had traveled the world and seen in places like the Netherlands, France and Tanzania the common denominator she knew she could apply in Curaçao: People who wanted to help simply needed volunteer opportunities that were accessible.
She and her friend Lysayé de Windt had witnessed how New York Cares, part of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, had made community service accessible to millions of people from all walks of life in New York, and thought, “It must be possible to make this happen on an island of 150,000 people.”
The friends set out to create a platform that could connect citizen volunteers with community needs, modeled after the HandsOn Network in the U.S. Siliee helped start Curaçao Cares in 2012.
The organization’s mission: “Through volunteerism, we want to foster understanding and facilitate crucial exchanges between citizens from all walks of life, in order to cultivate stronger communities composed of caring and committed citizens who put their time, skills, talent and resources to use to elevate the quality of life on the island.”
Within a year, some 4,650 people – including employees from nearly 90 different companies – volunteered with Curaçao Cares, helping with more than 100 unique projects, including the revitalization of a dozen schools on the island. All told, the 30,000 cumulative volunteer hours given is estimated to have contributed $500,000 in economic value to Curaçao.
“Our job is to bring people together,” Siliee explains, “and I think we’ve been able to bridge some gaps and get people from all walks of life connected through our various projects.”
The effort has even attracted attention from Curaçao’s policymakers, starting more conversation about national volunteer policy. Curaçao’s largest volunteer effort, CURA DOET, similar to national volunteer days in the United States, received support from the minister of social affairs.
Seeing this success, Siliee urges people to volunteer. Her message is: “Change begins with you.”
Also as part of International Volunteer Day, Points of Light salutes HandsOn Hong Kong for bringing together corporate professionals looking to start or expand employee volunteer programs to learn about IMPACT 2030.