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February 2010

Volunteering and Social Change

on Tue, 02/16/2010 - 00:00

Paul Revere earned his living as a silversmith. But what do we remember him for? His volunteer work. All activism is volunteering in that it’s done above and beyond earning a living and deals with what people really care passionately about. Remember, no one gets paid to rebel. All revolutions start with volunteers.
- Susan J. Ellis

To me, it seems that most people think of words like “advocacy,” and “activism” as being quite different from words like “volunteering” and “service.” I like the quote above because it shows that this is a false dichotomy. Activists are “volunteers in the vanguard,” helping to change public opinion and pave the way for needed reforms.  One important element of even the most traditional service opportunities is that they can open volunteers’ eyes to broader social problems and create articulate advocates for your organization’s cause.

Below is an excerpt from Susan J. Ellis and Katherine H. Campbell’s By the People: A History of Americans as Volunteers

Volunteer Management News before July 2009 is archived on the Energize site.