HandsOn NWNC Focuses on Volunteer Recognition During Global Volunteer Month

Apr 5, 2023

April is Global Volunteer Month, and we’re highlighting a few Points of Light Global Network affiliates who are positively impacting their communities through volunteerism and other pathways to doing social good.

The Points of Light Global Network operates with a network of innovative volunteer-mobilizing organizations that serve more than 145 affiliates across 39 countries around the world. Together, we are inspiring, equipping and mobilizing more people to use their time, talent and resources to create positive change in their communities.

HandsOn NWNC, a member of the Points of Light Global Network, mobilizes the people and organizations that inspire community change in Forsyth, Davidson, Davie, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties in North Carolina. HandsOn NWNC envisions a Northwest North Carolina where citizens and nonprofits are equipped and engaged in creating thriving, healthy communities.

We spoke with Amy Lytle, executive director at HandsOn NWNC, to get her thoughts on Global Volunteer Month and how the organization supports its volunteers to take action and increase social good. She shared why volunteer recognition and other ways of engaging volunteers is so important.

How is your organization recognizing Global Volunteer Month this year?

Our largest event of the year is the Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards, where we recognize the “best of the best” volunteers in our area at a 250 to 300 person breakfast that draws a wide variety of community leaders. This year, we’re holding the breakfast on May 2, but we profile all of our two dozen nominees in social media posts leading up the event.

How are you engaging with volunteers to inspire them to participate in community service activities?

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards (GVSA) are our primary method of volunteer recognition efforts, and of inspiring other volunteers to serve. We also make sure to give out The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) to any GVSA nominee that qualifies.

Additionally, we run our Project Blueprint program, which engages BIPOC community leaders in board service (and which includes a program stipend for professional development.)

What resources or tools are you providing to volunteers to help them get involved in their community?

We run GetConnected, our online volunteer matching portal. And we publish a quarterly Volunteer Connection e-newsletter that highlights a variety of engagement opportunities. We also provide ongoing board training classes in addition to Project Blueprint.

What role does volunteerism play in your organization’s overall mission and objectives?

Volunteerism is at the heart of why we exist. We have an active and engaged board of directors. The Program and Marketing committee of our board also serves as the core of the selection committee for our GVSA awards as well as our competitive, stipended programs.

We constantly seek to engage new audiences in volunteerism, whether it be youth (we just recently laid down a Youth Engagement Coalition, but it had been very active during the pandemic) or corporate, or the more rural/ex-urban parts of our service area.

Share one success story of a volunteer (or a group of volunteers) in your community who have made a significant impact.

Lots of our “best” volunteer stories have been recognized as Daily Point of Light honorees, including Rosa Johnson and Karl Yena. In the past, Points of Light has made it easy for us to submit our GVSA winners each year for DPOL consideration.

Sarina Horner, another outstanding volunteer, was the driver behind our Youth Engagement Coalition and served on our board for two years while she was in high school, and has changed local public transport policies to make relying on the bus easier for families who need it to buy groceries:

What are some future plans for your organization to continue promoting volunteerism and civic engagement beyond Global Volunteer Month?

We also promote volunteerism around our large, established MLK Day of Service Read-In event, and we’ve put together a Civic Circle presentation that we’ve done for our local Chamber’s HR roundtable as well as local conferences for a variety of audiences. We hope to continue to do similar presentations to civic and church groups in the future.

Can you share any tips or best practices for other organizations looking to recognize Global Volunteer Month?

Just do it! Try to tie your local, pre-existing efforts into GVM and the Civic Circle to widen your story and generate press coverage.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to get more involved in their community through volunteerism?

Give us a call, check out our website and think about the causes and issues you most care about. As the Indigo Girls said, “If I’ve got a care in the world, I’ve got a gift to give.”

Points of Light

We are champions of civic engagement with a mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.