National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world. Each year, we shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve, recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent, and voices to make a difference in their communities.
National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. Today, as people strive to lead lives that reflect their values, the expression of civic life has evolved. Whether online, at the office, or the local food bank; whether with a vote, a voice, or a wallet – doing good comes in many forms, and we recognize and celebrate them all.
Although 1974 marked the beginning of National Volunteer Week, volunteerism has been the core of the Barber National Institute since its beginning in 1952. The teacher and aides who established with Dr. Barber the first classroom in 1952 were not paid staff but volunteers who were retired school teachers or parents. They believed that children with disabilities should be able to receive an education and so they volunteered.
Often these women continued to work as volunteers for many years since there was no funding. There was a need for fundraisers so that these “volunteers” could in fact be paid. Again, it was volunteers who stepped to the plate and chaired teas, telethons, and card parties. Do we still depend on volunteers today? Yes, definitely!
Hundreds of event volunteers assist with the Beast on the Bay and other events, including the Art Show, Shillelagh golf tournaments, Ladies Only Luncheon, and the Christmas Ball. We are so fortunate that the men and women of our community are able and willing to give their time and talents to support children and adults of the Barber National Institute.
Over the next two weeks the children in our school are holding a penny drive to help the children of Ukraine. If you would like to assist, you can drop off your donation at any of our main entrances in Erie. As one of our children said to me, “It’s our job to help the kids of Ukraine.”
Have you ever considered volunteering? If not, why not? Check out our website and learn about the various opportunities available. 70 years later, volunteerism is alive and well as the Barber National Institute!