Volunteerism in America has a long history and is believed to have taken root in colonial times when Americans banded together in order to survive the harsh realities of everyday life. Neighbors cleared land to help one another build houses and barns and harvest crops. Churches were built by volunteers and quilting bees and weaving parties were the norm. Colonists formed fire brigades. Today 70 percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteers.
Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week focuses national attention on the impact and power of volunteerism and service as an integral aspect of civic leadership. April 21-27 draws the support and endorsement of the government as well as corporate and community groups across the country.
Proudly, during the year 2011, in the state of Maine, 32.8 percent of residents volunteered ranking them 12th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. There were 349,380 volunteers who contributed 39.6 million hours of service adding up to $862.2 million dollars of service contributed.
A few weeks ago, one of Raymond Village Library’s, veteran volunteers who has been with the library for 20 years brought some historical documentation about the library to share with me. The first paragraph on the first page reads, “On January 24, 1950, a meeting was held at the home of Rena Lambert for the purpose of organizing a library club for the younger women’s group in Raymond, Thirty-two ladies were present. So a beginning was made.”
Since that chilly day in Mrs. Lambert’s parlor, Raymond Village Library has grown, and changed, and during these tough economic times continues to serve the community by providing programming for children, teens and adults. Books, DVDs and audiobooks are popular and technology is advancing the library’s mission to serve a broad population of people. Outreach to the community and to area schools and collaboration with other libraries and organizations has become an important aspect of the library. Through all the changes over the years, our volunteers have constantly and selflessly devoted hundreds of hours to the library.
During National Volunteer Week the Library’s Board of Trustees, Sally Holt - library director, Connie Bouchard - library assistant and Lisa Davison - youth services assistant want to express their gratitude and appreciation to all of our wonderful volunteers. “It wouldn’t happen without you!”
Sally Holt, is the library director at Raymond Village Library.