The Cayman Islands has a robust heritage of volunteerism and unpaid service for the good of the community. This is often evident through the many charities, professional associations and other such civil society groups and organisations that rely on volunteers to operate. Many of these persons often go unrecognised and their efforts are sometimes taken for granted. It is, however, important to remember that this labour of love is unpaid labour.
Monday, 5 December, is the United Nations’ International Day of the Volunteer and the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ Year of the Volunteer. This day offers the general public an opportunity to highlight the significant contributions of volunteers to the development of our community.
With over 250 charitable organisations, the spirit of service and volunteerism is very much alive in the Cayman Islands. Some of these organisations are either fully or heavily staffed by volunteers and most organisations would not exist without their tireless support. Whether it is working on community-based projects, professional associations, environmental issues or a faith-based initiative, volunteers work long hours without pay or much reward other than being of service to their communities.
Characteristically, people who volunteer are not seeking recognition. They are driven by something deeper; a passion to make a difference and effect change through positive action. Whether it is the teenager who leads their church youth group or the man who rescues animals or the woman who fulfils her civic duty by sitting on the board of a professional association, volunteers fulfil many roles in our society. Through dedicated service, men, women and children are helping to show how volunteering can make our Islands a better place and change our world.
The first civil society study in the Cayman Islands is being conducted and, based on the initial responses thus far, charitable organisations are mostly staffed by volunteers rather than paid staff. If this trend bears through with other respondents, this is a significant finding because of the tremendous impact on our economy by the unpaid work of both residents and non-residents alike.
As we mark International Volunteer Day here in the Cayman Islands, I encourage our leaders both in the public, private and civil society sectors to do even more to support volunteerism and I urge everyone to consider making volunteerism a part of their daily life. Being of service to others will not only enrich our community but will also enrich your life.