Global Volunteer Month is in full swing, and we’re continuing our series of highlighting some of our 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. Ruach Tova, the leading organization in the field of volunteering in Israel, specializing in matching volunteers with organizations. We’re proud of all the work this member of the Points of Light Global Network is doing in Israel and beyond. We spoke with Hannah Wojno, director of the international division of Ruach Tova, to get her unique perspective on Global Volunteer Month and how her organization incorporates their own upcoming event, an international day of volunteering, Good Deeds Day.
How is your organization recognizing Global Volunteer Month this year?
Ruach Tova (“Good Spirit” in Hebrew) celebrates Global Volunteer Month primarily through our event, Good Deeds Day, which was created 17 years ago and has gone on to become a global movement of doing good around the world. As the Points of Light Affiliate of Israel, we see Global Volunteer Month as part of the global month of celebrations, like an umbrella of volunteering.
In Israel, Good Deeds Day saw 2 million people taking part in hands-on volunteering projects across the country. There were also seven mega-events for the public to celebrate doing good, including entertainment and fun ways to volunteer. One thousand companies volunteered, 250 municipalities engaged their residents, and 10,000 projects were offered to the public via our website. The message this year is: think good, speak good, do good.
What are some of the projects completed through your organization during Global Volunteer Month?
Some examples include establishing community libraries, packaging food, giving aid to underserved populations, working to protect the environment, volunteering for animal welfare, helping seniors in their homes, preparing food for those who needed a hot meal and more.
All of these are done under different frameworks – in the neighborhood, through the schools, in the workplaces or through the mobilization of the entire organization, with the participation of entire units of soldiers, policemen, students, trainees of youth movements and private companies.
Are you working with other Points of Light Global Network affiliates on a community project around volunteerism?
Over 20 Points of Light Global Network affiliates are taking part in Good Deeds Day around the globe. Atados, in Brazil, carries out projects nationally as part of their strategy to involve more people in volunteering. Houston Food Bank will gather 500 volunteers that will involve inspecting, sorting or packing food.
iVolunteer offers projects around the country. In Delhi, there will be a school renovation project to create better infrastructure and creative learning space for children. They will engage up to 200 employees in a School Refurbishment activity, clocking 600+ volunteering hours. These are just a few examples of organizations we partner with.
How are you engaging with volunteers to inspire them to participate in community service activities?
We run campaigns both online — social media, online news publications — and offline in Israel, through radio, billboards and posters, to encourage volunteers to either sign up for a volunteer project in their community or lead a project with friends, family members or their companies. We also work with hundreds of municipalities in Israel to help them involve people in volunteering.
What resources or tools are you providing to volunteers to help them get involved in their community?
We provide toolkits, branding, seminars, workshops, mentoring, 10,000 projects anyone can sign up for, activation at universities on how to plan projects and more.
How are you recognizing and thanking volunteers for their contributions during Global Volunteer Month?
There are specific events recognizing the work of volunteers. All of the projects and the entire initiative is focused on the volunteers themselves (instead of the beneficiaries).
What impact has Global Volunteer Month had on your organization and the communities you serve?
It’s had a huge impact. We are breaking records of community involvement and impact, boosting the culture and activation of volunteering in Israel and globally. It’s positioned our organization as the place to go for when you want to volunteer, and the impact on the communities has been the most important. Through the framework they are now engaging in volunteering all year round, bringing communities together and addressing critical issues as a community.
What role does volunteerism play in your organization’s overall mission and objectives?
Volunteerism is the backbone of our mission and objectives. We believe everyone has the power to do good, which is why we specialize in connecting individuals and groups to causes and organizations they’re passionate about, in order to help them to make a difference in the world.
Share one success story of a volunteer (or a group of volunteers) in your community who have made a significant impact.
One woman decided to organize free wedding dresses and fittings for brides due to the high prices of wedding dresses. She is giving out 300 dresses to women who need them by offering a fun day to try on and get fitted for their special day. She opened a bridal shop 10 years ago after her own struggles with the mission to make wedding dress shopping accessible for all.
She receives and accepts donations and for her project, volunteers will help arrange the dresses. Some of them come from the school for special education in Kibbutz Hamediya, and the girls from the studio of Beit Shean as well. Girls will come to pick a dress and get it fitted and then return it after the wedding for another person to use.
What are some future plans for your organization to continue promoting volunteerism and civic engagement beyond Global Volunteer Month?
Engaging volunteers is the backbone of our everyday work – we operate a call center divided by region that assists individuals on finding the perfect opportunity for them. We also work with more than 2,000 companies year-round for corporate volunteering.
Can you share any tips or best practices for other organizations looking to recognize Global Volunteer Month?
Just start small or brand one of your current projects as part of Global Volunteer Month.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to get more involved in their community through volunteerism?
Find the right cause. What is a cause your community needs, that matches both your interests and abilities? Sometimes we want to do something but don’t have the means or connections, while other times we have the means and it matches perfectly with the community needs and our personal passions.