2012 National Volunteer Week CelebrationsAlyssa Montoya and Danilo Minnick
A Report on NYC and NYAVA Activities for National Volunteer Week: April 15-21
Volunteers across the country were celebrated from April 15 – 21, 2012 for National Volunteer Week. Organizations all over New York City were recognizing their volunteers for their action and commitment. Some, like God’s Love We Deliver, were truly celebrating with a Volunteer Appreciation Party, while others, like Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, were putting their volunteers to work! Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens had volunteers beautifying several of their Senior Centers including a new Tranquility Garden built by volunteers from the University of Scranton and Home Depot. Most organizations had postings on their website with government agencies also joining the chorus. The NYC Service page thanked helpful New Yorkers for dedicating their time and President Obama issued an official Proclamation (read it here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/09/presidential-proclamation-national-volunteer-week-2012).
NYAVA also celebrated with its members by offering a lunch-time visit to the 9/11 Memorial on April 18th. Here is a full report from Danilo Minnick, the Volunteer Services Manager at the 9/11 Memorial:
Lunch Hour at the 9/11 Memorial
By Danilo Minnick
April in NYC. It’s spring. Weather is perfect, trees are in full bloom and birds are busy making new nests. And it’s also National Volunteer Month/week where thousands of organizations honor and recognized the generous work their volunteers do year round.
As Manager of Volunteer Services at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, I thought I would arrange a private tour for my fellow NYAVA members. It was a small gesture, but we cannot forget the challenging and rewarding work we volunteer managers do year round, so I was glad that NYAVA was receptive to offering this “perk” to their members.
While walking down the hill from my office at One Liberty Plaza, across from Zuccotti park (yes, that park), my guests were surprised at the new traffic and vibrancy returning to this part of lower Manhattan and by all the signage and staff one sees before even reaching the Memorial entry, which is another 5-6 blocks away. It was also noticeable, by their blue caps and vests, how engaged our volunteers were with paid staff and visitors alike.
With my employee ID in hand, we were able to forgo the long lines that the public has to wait through, but not the security queue where everyone’s pass is scanned and every individual is screened. I liken it to an airport screening area, only a lot quicker and less annoying. As we walked another block north on West Street, you begin to see the open space which separates you from all the surrounding construction.
Upon entering, one senses an immediate feeling of calm and peace – the noise and construction on the other side of the fence seems to disappear. I walked my guests around the pools (appropriately called “Reflecting Absence”), explained the arrangement of the names on the parapets, shared the story of the “Survivor Tree”, and allowed them to peek through the dark glass of the lobby of the Museum (opening date sometime in 2013) where the original tridents from one of the towers stand.
This tour was a good test of my knowledge and facts, and reflected the same history and answers our volunteers are provided with during their training. One particular touching moment was locating the name of a co-worker of one of our NYAVA members; to actually see and “feel” the letters hollowed out of the bronze brings you right back to the fact that this “new tourist attraction” is first and foremost a resting place for the nearly 3,000 innocent lives that were lost over 10 years ago and during the 1993 bombing.
The Memorial is not even a year old, yet it has already surpassed attendance expectations, and with no slowing down in sight, we could not operate as smoothly as we do without the help of our dedicated volunteers. So, in a way, this tour not only highlighted the sacred place of the Memorial itself - the pools, the survivor tree, the trees and glades - but also the entire organization of a complex operation that requires the cooperation and collaboration of our staff, the NYPD, the PA, security, and of course, our volunteers.
Another highlight is the way this neighborhood - the WTC, Financial Center, Wall Street, Battery Park, the residents, businesses , schools and community centers – is bouncing back, bigger and better than ever. In a way, it reflects the nature of NYAVA and its members – a community unto ourselves that needs the support and encouragement of our colleagues. As this recognition month comes to a close, I commend my fellow members – we do our job in dedication to the many individuals who try in some small way to make a difference by participating in volunteerism.
Many thanks to Danilo for the report! You can also read his recent piece celebrating Volunteers in the Huffington Post here:
What did your organization do for National Volunteer Week? Share your stories with Alyssa Montoya at email@example.com.