At Capitol Hill on International Volunteer Day, a broad spectrum of skilled volunteers, bipartisan congressional champions, USAID leadership and volunteer organizations and experts from the private sector gathered to celebrate the contributions of volunteers to effective U.S. and global development and discuss a new initiative to leverage pro-bono private sector expertise to reduce poverty and promote prosperity worldwide.
The heart of the day was an awards ceremony for remarkable volunteers with powerful stories of impact around the globe. Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) awarded six outstanding VEGA and Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers for their service. Among the six winners, half of the awards went to volunteers working with cooperative development organizations, two from NCBA CLUSA and a volunteer with Land O’ Lakes International Development.
“One by one we are sand, but together we are stone. This not only shows the cooperative ideal, but also exemplifies the partnership between USAID, Farmer-to-Farmer and the people of Madagascar and other nations,” said Matthew Amato, who was nominated for his work with NCBA CLUSA’s cooperative development projects in Madagascar.
Six bipartisan congressional champions were also recognized by VEGA for their leadership on USAID programs and policies.
“Our nation’s humanitarian efforts continue to make significant difference in the lives of people across the world. Through smart investments and diplomacy, the U.S. has saved lives, strengthened our national security interests and created a more stable global community. I will continue to support these efforts,” said Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY), who was introduced by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
Cultivating private sector volunteers—in particular from the cooperative sector—is a priority for panelists.
“I continue to encourage drawing on the expertise and passion of the cooperative sector,” said Ryan Donovan, Chief Advocacy Officer for CUNA, who had personally volunteered through a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) assignment.
Other awardees included Erin Schneider, who has volunteered over six times in Senegal with NCBA CLUSA in the past five years. Land O’ Lakes International Development nominated Kate Coffey, who received the VEGA Volunteer of the Year Award for her work in Sri Lanka.
International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations in 1985. You can follow the conversation with #IVD2017.
See below for a video from Matthew Amato’s assignment in Madagascar and the role of volunteers in cooperative development. To learn more about that particular project, you can read about it in the Summer 2017 issue of the Cooperative Business Journal.