Serving Others, Creating a Better World: Celebrating 2003 as ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer Volunteering—what does the word bring to mind? Soup kitchens, telethons, church functions, scout trips, a school mentoring program? The word’s Latin roots—voluntas (“choice”) and velle (“to wish”)—reach beneath the surface of our preconceptions. There is an element of dreaming toward a better world, often prompted by love and passion. But ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   February 01, 2003
Serving Others, Creating a Better World: Celebrating 2003 as ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer
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ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   February 01, 2003
Serving Others, Creating a Better World: Celebrating 2003 as ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer
The ASHA Leader, February 2003, Vol. 8, 1-22. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.08022003.1
The ASHA Leader, February 2003, Vol. 8, 1-22. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.08022003.1
Volunteering—what does the word bring to mind? Soup kitchens, telethons, church functions, scout trips, a school mentoring program? The word’s Latin roots—voluntas (“choice”) and velle (“to wish”)—reach beneath the surface of our preconceptions. There is an element of dreaming toward a better world, often prompted by love and passion. But choice is the critical factor—as Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary notes, a volunteer is “one who serves of his or her own free will.”
Wherever you turn in the ASHA community, you’ll find people who have made that choice. Volunteer members now run more than 50 ASHA committees, boards, and task forces—in addition to the 150-member Legislative Council and the Executive Board—that have contributed immeasurably to the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology and the field of communication sciences and disorders. They develop practice and policy documents, review and select Convention papers, work to strengthen the scientific base of the discipline, edit journals, govern ASHA, lobby Congress, run state associations, mentor students, propose new billing codes, and sanction breaches of the Code of Ethics. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
To honor the volunteer spirit, the Legislative Council passed resolution LC 18-2001 designating 2003 as ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer. An ad hoc committee—volunteer, of course!—was formed to develop and implement plans for this special year.
“Volunteering is an innate part of our lives, from our roles in the family to broader areas of service. It lays the foundation for how people perceive their responsibilities to society,” said Gerard Caracciolo, who heads ASHA’s Year of the Volunteer ad hoc committee.
Throughout the year, ASHA will be recognizing volunteers in its publications, and at committee and board meetings. State associations also have expressed interest in participating. The Year of the Volunteer celebration will reach its climax at the 2003 ASHA Convention in Chicago, Nov. 20–23.
Making a Difference
Two qualities stand out in committed volunteers—their energy and the breadth of their service. Longtime volunteers exude energy and are energized by their work—as if by giving of themselves, that gift is returned in equal measure. And they tend to extend themselves in more than one area. They see—and make—connections. ASHA members have this energy and vision. Many don’t just contribute in their professional lives, but also devote extra hours to community and public service. Consider the stories of just two members of the ASHA community—retired audiologist Jean Lovrinic and university student Marie Patton. (We know there are thousands of you making a difference with your lives, and we would like to hear your stories. See “It’s Your Turn” at right.) Their ASHA credentials? Lovrinic received ASHA’s 2002 Dorothy Dreyer Award for Volunteerism, an award created in 2001 in honor of a well-known ASHA volunteer. Patton is the current president of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA).
As a self-described “farm kid from Nebraska,” Lovrinic grew up in a close-knit community. Living eight miles from town, she recalled that when her family would leave the farm for lengthy trips, her parents would leave the doors unlocked—not for neighbors to check on things, but for travelers who might get stranded in the blizzards that pummeled the plains.
“There was no fear in it. It was the Midwestern ethic—a helping ethic,” she said. “The feeling of responsibility they inculcated in us is that we owed something to society—living just for ourselves was absolutely unacceptable.”
When Lovrinic “came east” to study audiology at the University of Pittsburgh, she found that getting involved in projects was a more formal, aloof process than she was accustomed to. “I didn’t realize that you had to be asked to do things,” she said.
But her natural energy and commitment won out, and Lovrinic became a leader of ASHA. Highlights of her volunteer service included 30 years on the Legislative Council (LC), as well as chairing the Standards Council and Honors Committee. But her “capstone,” she said, was serving on the Board of Ethics. “We revised the Code to make it more broad-based and took the issue of sexual harassment to the LC to make it unethical behavior.” Lovrinic believes members interested in the Board of Ethics should consider serving later in their career—“you need experience as well as tolerance and understanding.”
What did she gain from all this work? “A strong network of friends and colleagues, and the joy of mentoring younger people.”
Some young people—like Marie Patton—already qualify as veteran volunteers. An undergraduate at the University of Kentucky (UK), Patton is the current NSSLHA president and serves as the student representative on the LC. On campus, she also has won recognition as a scholar/athlete.
But she also finds time for her community, volunteering at a local VA hospital, a children’s art fair, and the Special Olympics. Among her many volunteer roles, Patton is a Big Sister who introduced a child to “apple picking, seafood, and roller coasters.” As a member of the UK women’s track and field team, she hosted recruits who visited the campus. She also has helped out in the office of the Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
“When people need help, they appreciate volunteers,” Patton said. “And in return, I feel appreciated. You also learn a lot from volunteer experiences—even if it’s just how to make a hospital bed or inflate balloons for an art fair.”
Patton insists she’s not unique, citing other NSSLHA members who are deeply involved in community work and state associations. On an individual level, she notes that volunteering builds skills, self-esteem, and instills social values.
A Growing Movement
The spirit of volunteerism also enlivens the National Office, where the ASHA staff is well-known in Montgomery County, MD, for participating in and initiating volunteer projects. Some are coordinated by ASHA’s community outreach committee, which has more than 25 members; others are initiated by individuals. More than a dozen people mentor at nearby Garrett Park Elementary School, and ASHA holds frequent book sales to support Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC. Staff members also volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Christmas in April, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, health fairs at local malls, local public television station fundraising campaigns, the District of Columbia Central Food Kitchen, and annual walks to support research on autism, leukemia, breast cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
On a national level, the volunteer movement continues to grow and gain recognition. Associations have made a significant contribution by dedicating more than 173 million volunteer hours each year in community service, according to the American Society for Association Executives.
The Points of Light Foundation ( http://www.pointsoflight.org/ ) offers many resources on volunteering and has designated a week in late April to honor volunteers. National Volunteer Week 2003 will be celebrated April 27–May 3, coinciding with May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month. The theme this year is “Celebrate Volunteers—The Spirit of America.”
In a proclamation last year for National Volunteer Week, President Bush called upon Americans to give at least two years—or 4,000 hours—during their lives in service to others. “I encourage all Americans to learn more about how they can serve, to volunteer to help those in need, and to encourage volunteers across the country who are answering the call to service,” he said.
For Jean Lovrinic, volunteering comes down to a simple concept—realizing that you can make a difference throughout your life.
“The last 40 years in ASHA have gone so fast! There wasn’t enough time to do everything I wanted to do,” she said. Now retired from audiology, she raises money for local hospitals by leading tours of historic homes, working on a newsletter, and selling ads—still making a difference.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
February 2003
Volume 8, Issue 2