Volunteers for Peace (VFP) has been a Vermont nonprofit membership corporation since 1982. VFP is totally membership supported and is in partnership with an international network of voluntary service organizations operating under UNESCO. VFP provides consultation and placement services for work camp host organizations (nonprofits) in the United States as well as providing thousands of voluntary service opportunities abroad for American students.
In 1982 VFP had its first work camp in Vermont where 19 volunteers from 11 countries came together to do a community service project. Since then VFP has introduced the work camp concept to dozens of nonprofit organizations in the United States and has provided them with volunteers to assist with their widely varied projects. Through its membership VFP has recruited thousands of U.S. volunteers to serve in projects around the world. While living in the community, the volunteers help to foster understanding between people of different backgrounds and cultures, promoting international peace.
VFP’s volunteers in the United States have provided thousands of hours of community service in the areas of: construction/renovation of low-income housing or community buildings; environmental education, trail building, repairing trail erosion, wildlife protection, park maintenance, organic farming; social services with children, the elderly, physically/mentally/emotionally disabled people, refugees, minority groups, people in drug/alcohol recovery, women’s shelters, homeless people, soup kitchens, halfway houses; HIV/AIDS education and services.
VFP’s programs are about intercultural immersion, communicating and adapting to different people, situations and living conditions. The programs are a way for volunteers to respond positively to the many challenges facing our planet. Because volunteers at each site usually come from several different countries they learn a lot about one another’s cultural, social, economic, and political conditions. Volunteers build bonds and friendships that often last a lifetime. They also have a strong impact on the community in which they are living and working.
Since 1982, when VFP hosted 19 volunteers, VFP has placed more than 12,000 volunteers in international and domestic service projects. The volunteers come from around the world to work on worthwhile projects, providing thousands of hours of free labor to the host organizations. The U.S. programs have grown in number from one in 1982, to 65 in 2000. Through its partner organization network VFP offered over 1,500 volunteer opportunities worldwide in the year 2000.
VFP’s US programs are hosted by nonprofit organizations. VFP provides volunteers to these organizations to work on many varied and ongoing projects. Some of these organizations have been receiving VFP volunteers for more than 15 years. Some of them take time off to reorganize or fund-raise and then return as project hosts. Many programs have on-going projects that require volunteers to return every year. Many of VFP’s volunteers participate in multiple programs and come back year after year to serve in the same or new locations.