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National Volunteer Week set April 18-24 | Lifestyle

JUNEAU — The week of April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week.

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 voice to make a difference in their communities, said Marie Witzel, positive youth development educators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

National Volunteer Week was established by the Points of Light Foundation in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. 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, Witzel said.

According Witzel, Dodge County 4-H has 179 adult volunteers enrolled in the county 4-H program. They have completed training to serve as volunteers for the UW-Madison, Division of Extension.

Each year, Independent Sector, a national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, gathers data and conducts research on volunteerism in the nonprofit sector. The results of that research provide nonprofits a way to calculate the value of volunteer time. As of July 2020, the estimated national value of each volunteer hour is currently $27.20. According to what Dodge County 4-H volunteers reported, they had 6,570 hours which has a value of $178,704 in hours of service.

During COVID-19, the existing Wisconsin 4-H programs needed to go through a program approval process. According to the state 4-H program manager, there were over 1,500 programs implemented without any COVID-19 related issues. This is possible due to the work of the volunteers and the safety protocols they were taking to have their clubs and groups come together. They implemented activities such as outdoor caroling and snowmen-building at the nursing homes and care facilities; they livened up Zoom meetings with dress-up challenges and scavenger hunts; they held no contact drive-up events; youth leaders planned programs for their clubs and groups with recordings if needed; and prepared kits for youth to do at home and share their products with others online.

The 4-H program would not be as strong as it is without the volunteers that we have leading the program, Witzel said.

Witzel thanked the Dodge County 4-H volunteer leaders and parents for their help in “Making the Best Better” in Dodge County.

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