By Maria Said, Pandemic Response Chief Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator and Community Liaison Officer
Here at FORA, we are able to do what we do thanks to the many volunteers who want to commit their time and energy towards helping our students. Our volunteers show up every day with patience and understanding and help our students become more empowered through the power of education. We thank each and every one of our volunteers for their commitment and diligence!
In addition to thanking our volunteers, we want to honor our volunteers by offering them the most prestigious award available for volunteers in the United States. In the past year, we have become a certifying organization for the President's Volunteer Service Award. This is an award that has been given out by the U.S. President under various names since the 1980s to people who have donated significant hours with exemplary performance for important volunteer causes. In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded this award under the name the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Source 1). We want to celebrate our volunteers in this way because we believe that through their commitment and example, they inspire others to do the same.
Anyone can become eligible for this award who: volunteers with our program, meets the hours requirement, and meets our assessment that the person has met the highest standards of volunteerism and service.
The following chart from https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/eligibility outlines the hour requirements for the various levels of the award (bronze, silver, and gold). Additionally, to recognize their achievements, recipients of this award will receive a personalized certificate of achievement and a letter signed by the US President (Source 2).
We at FORA went through the lengthy process of receiving Presidential certification for our program because we believe that it is important to empower volunteers who have a heart for this work and who understand the need to empower refugees. It is our belief that the refugees with whom we work are among the most resilient and inspiring people on earth, and those who know and have worked with such people are themselves better because of it and better able to understand and serve the broader world. It doesn’t hurt that this award is viewed as a prestigious award on resumes and college and grad school applications.
We want to acknowledge some of our most dedicated and hardworking volunteers through this program. We believe that we have been blessed by the outpouring of support that we have received during this pandemic by volunteers throughout the country. We do not just want to acknowledge the time they spend with us, but the effort and care they put into each interaction with our students. Our volunteers have been faced with many challenges, especially during our current virtual setting. But with grace and good humor, they have persisted and have continued to make this world a better place for the refugee kids we serve.
If you’re interested in learning more about this award’s history and eligibility requirements, you can find more information here: https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/
Source 1: "About the President's Volunteer Service Award - Presidential ...." https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/about. Accessed 30 Jun. 2020.
Source 2: "Award Packages - The President's Volunteer Service Award." https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/award-packages. Accessed 30 Jun. 2020.