Valuing volunteers – an opportunity to thank those who give so generously to ECEC
With National Volunteer Week falling next week (18 – 24 May), the South Australian Department of Education has encouraged early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to acknowledge the occasion, and think about ways in which they may thank the caring, creative, diverse and generous volunteers who support their services.
Although the reminder has been issued by the South Australian Department, many of the ideas are transferable across all states and territories, supporting services around the country to acknowledge the efforts of their volunteers.
The department has a volunteer workforce of more than 25,000 people, who give their time and share their skills to help children of all ages learn and grow. Comprising a diverse range of parents, family, caregivers and people from the community, the volunteers bring their life skills, expertise, knowledge and diversity to schools, preschools and children’s centres across South Australia.
With the recent summer of fires, followed by the unprecedented conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers are perhaps more valuable now than ever. Although many face to face events may have to be repositioned to online, it is still important to ensure volunteers are recognised.
“Get creative, and consider ways you can still acknowledge the volunteers who make a difference to your communities during this celebratory week” was the advice from the Department.
Some of the ways in which volunteers will be recognised by the Department this year include:
- SA Minister for Education, John Gardner, will deliver a video message to recognise the department’s volunteer workforce, and acknowledge the contribution they make in the education and wellbeing of children and young people.
- Resources on mental health and wellbeing will be shared with volunteers
- Accepting nominations for the Minister’s Volunteering Award for Outstanding Service
The Minister’s Award aims to recognise individuals or groups who make a significant contribution to others by volunteering in schools and preschools. Recipients get a certificate personally signed by the Minister for Education, thanking them for their service.
Suggestions for recognising volunteers at service level include:
Giving a gift
Volunteers can be acknowledged with a small gift of appreciation from the department, with coffee keep-cups, pens, calico bags and lanyards available free to schools, preschools and centres to pass on to their volunteers. Contact [email protected] for more details.
“From thank-you morning teas online to children drawing/writing thank you letters or social media posts, we hope volunteers will be made to feel special” a spokesperson said.
Services are encouraged to share the creative ways in which they will be saying thank you by emailing Heidi Unferdorben at [email protected]