Dec. 5 is International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day is still known as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development.

Dec. 5 is an international observance day designated by the United Nations since 1985 and it offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make their contributions visible at the local, national and international level.

Volunteerism, it is said transcends cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries as people are lifted up by a singular sense of purpose (from the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development address on Dec. 5, 2012).

Here on Kauai, there is a very significant volunteer base that provides countless hours of time and talents for the good of the community.

Through the years, International Volunteer Day has been used strategically by many countries to set time bound goals to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women.

Many of the sustainable development goals call for long-term attitude and behavior changes which volunteers help facilitate by raising awareness, or inspiring others to champion the causes.

A set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change by 2030 were adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.

Volunteerism can help to expand and mobilize people to engage in national planning and implementation, and can help localize these new directions.

Indeed, many of the issues that we face are important at the local level and without the support and help of local volunteers would go unchecked.

By its very nature, volunteerism helps citizens and communities participate in their own growth, build resistance, enhance their knowledge base and gain a sense of responsibility for their own community.

Volunteers can provide technical support, provide basic services, and assist everyone including the marginalized or difficult to reach members of society such as the elderly.

A local volunteer organization which I have had the personal privilege to serve over the past few years is the Kauai Medical Reserve Corps. Their work includes assisting at many of the major sporting and fun events on Kauai, such as the Mayor-a-thon.

Another huge annual event in which the KMRC assists is Tropic Care.

Kauai’s Tropic Care events entails the military providing medical, dental and optometry care at no cost to local residents.

Additionally, another event you may be familiar with is the local school program checking on children’s immunization status annually, called the Stop Flu at School program.

The Corps uses volunteers to support medical professionals and support staff to aid the Hawaii State Department of Health to run these school based flu vaccination clinics.

As well, the KMRC helps volunteers stay abreast of many of the issues which are important locally such as the Zika, dengue and rat lung worm situations.

By being informed, volunteers can provide important educational outreach to local Kauai people in order to help them avoid or minimize their risk of these health hazards.

Another very important educational aspect of the KMRC is the preparedness training and education for disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tsunamis and storms.

Volunteers reach out to educate local people on these issues in order to create a more prepared and resilient community.

The KMRC is coordinated by Lauren Guest, MPH who is the Kauai District Health Office’s Public Health Preparedness Planner.

She will be appearing on my TV show on Ho’ike TV channel 54 for the month of December at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. every week day to discuss with me the good work that the Kauai Medical Reserve Corps does for Kauai, as well she will include discussion of other volunteer organizations which may interest you.

We hope that you might take an interest in volunteering your time and talents with others who are interested in making our community safe, caring and connected.

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Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text, and www.janerileyfitness.com

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