The Atlanta weather was especially a major challenge in the Olympic games of 1996. There were high temperatures and humidity and therefore the possibility of many cases of heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke. It was therefore necessary for the medical sector to get as many volunteers as they possibly could to deal with these emergencies. These services were provided by the American Red Cross volunteers and other enrolled volunteers.
Crowd related violence that could erupt into a stampede was checked by the present security with the reinforcement of volunteer security. This are just some of the services that required the assistance of volunteers who had enrolled in large numbers to make the vent successful (Olympic Safety and Security1996).
Definition of volunteering and the role of volunteering
Volunteering is defined as an activity that is undertaken out of will without the use of force or persuasion. It is unpaid work and occurs in the environment of formal organizations or groups. The benefit of volunteer work is felt by the volunteer and the society in general (Van, 1988, Cnaan, Handy and Wadsworth, 1996).
Volunteering is a commitment that is made in a particular context by a particular individual. Consequently, the decision to volunteer has to be discussed with other people with whom the volunteer is in contact with. These people include friends, family and the community. Social network is therefore very important in recruitment of individuals for volunteer work (Wilson and Musick 1997b). The contacts one has provide the opportunity to volunteer through sharing experiences and serving as role models to the volunteer. The decision to volunteer can only be made by an individual though. The person needs to understand the responsibilities and roles that are expected of them (Wilson and Musick 1997b).
Research by functionalists has revealed several psychological roles played by volunteer behavior as Clary and others write (Clary 1998). One of this is values. This is the concern that an individual possesses for other people. It is the inner need to be of service to those who need the service. In addition to this, there is the role of understanding. People are often in a desire to learn more. Volunteering provides new learning experiences which are a perfect avenue for understanding things. The social role played by volunteering has to do with establishing relationships with other people especially in the community we live in (Becker, 1975).
For one to build a relationship with others, they have to be close to them in terms of working closely with them. No person is an island and this is demonstrated by the need for other people in one way or the other. Volunteering therefore provides an opportunity for the creation of such relationships.
Career is another reason why people need to volunteer (Clary, 1998 and Wilson and Musick 1997b). Some skills need to be acquired through volunteer work. The development of career and career-related skills therefore becomes one other role that is played by volunteering. In addition to these, volunteering also offers individuals some form of protection from a negative self-image besides helping one to build positive mood.
Volunteering in the UK and its implications. Government interest in volunteering
Volunteer activities are especially popular in hospitals in the UK. The government places great importance on volunteer work and it is high on the agenda and receives a lot of support and investment. At the present, the government’s main interest is in the voluntary services of young people. Programmes for motivating the youth to be involved in voluntary service are in progress. The government is also making efforts to overcome practical barriers, both those in existence and those that might be a threat. Some of the organizations that benefit from the government’s efforts include Volunteering England and Befriending Foundation. Most of the spending departments of the government have been investing in volunteering (Louise and Marianne, 2002).
Volunteering of young people and volunteering of black-African community
The challenge faced in encouraging young people to volunteer is similar to that faced in encouraging the minority groups such as the black community. The concern is mainly on the feeling that these groups are not welcome which concerns confidence. Young people and the black African community are looked at as a problem (Becker, 1975). They are also thought to be lacking in skills by those involved in volunteer activities and the recruitment of volunteers. These two groups have also cited their concern that their involvement in volunteering would leave them out of pockets. There is however an effort to focus on the youth and the black minority in the participation in volunteer activities. This focus would play a role in responding to a necessary change in the demography of regions and the effect on volunteering in years to come (Wilson and Musick 1997b, Clary, 1998, Prestby, 1990 and Eckstein, 2001).
Role of school in volunteering
Schools give service learning to their students. This is aimed at teaching the students on developing active participation in services that are aimed at benefiting the community and meeting its needs. This learning is coordinated with community service programs and the community. It serves to orient students to serving the community and influences the lifetime learning of the student-participants. It develops an ethic service and civic responsibility (Service learning high school students).
Volunteering for the Olympics 2012
The 2012 London Olympics will be dependent on an estimate of 70,000 volunteer for the event to be smooth and successful. The activities that will be required activities will range from spectator services to language services and medical care. Young people are especially encouraged to enroll for the services. The Olympic event is an opportunity for people to develop their interest in sport and volunteer in the event as well as in the community. The organizers will require people to assist in first aid and medical services, stewardship, language interpretation, transport, security services, media coverage, sporting support and ticketing among other things (Volunteering at the games).
Application of done research, purpose of volunteering, why people volunteer effects of volunteering and benefits gained
Research by Clary et al (1998) has also shown that there is a stereotypical image associated with voluntary work. It seems that the people who are volunteering their services are old, middle class women. The women at the age of 50 and over are showing lots of commitment to volunteering.
In Canada, the research done on volunteer work reveals that the non-profit organizations and community groups among other voluntary associations are entirely dependent on unpaid labor for the operating of the organizations’ activities (Wilson and Musick 1997b). The government has not for a long time been interested in using tax-payers’ money to support social services in the state. There is so much demand for services that organizations are pressurized to draw people into the services as volunteers. Besides the role played by voluntary organizations to provide social goods and services, voluntary organizations are a foundation for grassroot public commitment and are also important starting points for social integration. They are therefore the mirror for healthy democracy in the society.
In Australia, non-profit organizations encounter the problem of recruiting volunteers and retaining them because of an inadequacy in finances to cater for paid employees. Managers therefore need to understand the factors that affect the contentment of volunteers so that they can address these factors. Part of the activities of volunteers in an effort to address these factors is socializing and establishing friendships. Lyons argues that non-profit organizations play a very big role in the economy of the country and that volunteering is one of their demonstrations of collective action. This has been of help in creating a sense of community (Lyons 2001).
The need to volunteer is attributed to a number of factors. However it is mostly a response to certain motives or needs that are innate in a person’s personality and socialization. Volunteering also serves a communal function and can therefore be said to be an activity based on social togetherness as well as social capital. Such voluntary behavior can only be observed in communities that are tightly-knit. In such examples of volunteering, as the community benefits from volunteer work, the volunteer also benefits as is written by Eckstein (2001).
Factors that affect differences in volunteering behavior
Studies by many socialists including Prestby (1990) have shown that some of the factors that influence the differences in the volunteering of behavior include education, income and marital status of the volunteer, religion and the size of the volunteer’s family. However, Prestby (1990) had other ideas on the factors that could possibly affect volunteering behavior. He cites social interaction as one factor. The ability to interact in a social environment and develop friendships affects the active participation of volunteers because of the benefits involved. According to Prestby, most of the active volunteers in a block association that focuses on community development get more social benefits. They therefore socialize more.
Volunteers also relate to the reputation of an organization. People seek positive identity and will there behave according to the reputation that the organization they are working for enjoys. Turner (1987) argues that if an individual is not satisfied by the social identity, they will attempt to change the group to suit their satisfaction or leave the group for a more satisfying one.
The argument Clary and Snyder (1999) hold is that values work in motivating volunteering behavior. This applies in the volunteer’s effort to express values or act on essential values. This effort to express personal values is what drives volunteers to behave in a particular way.
Relation between social background and volunteering
There are volunteers who are identity-based in organizations. These people look at volunteering as a part of the individual that they are. It is part of their definition of themselves and their perception of themselves in society they live in. This is basically the background they identify with. The identity they have is therefore linked to the volunteer services they offer. For some, volunteering is a part of their lives. Religious values might play a big role in determining a person’s perception of volunteering. For others, their main interest is in meeting new people, socializing and creating networks (Volunteering in public services, 2008).
Participation and promotion of volunteering
To promote volunteer activities, the use of volunteer services should be more focused on providing services to those who genuinely need them in the society. Such include health sectors and social care establishments. In addition, constitutional agencies should put in consideration the benefit to society of volunteer service especially when they are hiring services from volunteers (Wilson and Musick 1998). To this respect, the cost of volunteer services should also be well thought-out.
In addition to the above aspects, schemes for volunteering should be widespread so that people have a chance to volunteer more often. Structures should also be established to ensure that volunteers are well managed and that they are recognized. This is besides recruiting volunteers in sectors where they are needed. The governments, charity organizations and other sectors need to tap extensively into the volunteering resource. The youth should especially be encouraged to take part in volunteering activities (Wilson and Musick 1999). The web is also a useful resource in linking peer group volunteers and providing opportunities for volunteering.
Social reasoning for volunteering
Social reasoning is an important element in helping to understand the nature and sense of volunteering behavior as is argued by Louise and Marianne (2002). It is in individuals to assign meaning to the arising events and situations. Opportunities that present themselves depend on situations or context. The perception of an individual is what matters. Some people take volunteering as an opportunity that has presented itself while others look at it as a need. The latter therefore create their chances. The identity of the volunteer plays an important role as Louise and Marianne further point out. This is the determinant of the lessons people learn in their culture and therefore the way they interpret situations. It shapes a person’s construction of the common good and influences volunteers’ action in contributing and supporting that good.
Motivation behind volunteering
Some research shows four traits responsible for motivating people to volunteer. These traits include egoism, collectivism, principlism and altruism (Batson and Ahmand, 2002). Others have identified religion, pleasure and team-building as the motivation for volunteering.
For most people who volunteer, the drive is the urge to give back to the community or help someone in need. It is also a way of reciprocating a good done to one previously. This is especially so in health organizations. There are also others who want to help so that they can get an employment opportunity in the firm I which they are offering their services (Batson and Ahmand, 2002.
Social resources theory applied to volunteering
The social resources theory was proposed by Wilson and Musick in their first work in the year 1997. It is applied to examine the social factors that support volunteer activity in Canada. According to the theory, there is an assumption that the factors that determine volunteering are economic, human as well as social and cultural capital. Research shows that this theory gives a practical structure for understanding the role of social resources in promoting volunteer participation.
There are three propositions associated with this model. One of this is that volunteering is productive work that has a market which is not very different from the market that is there for paid labor. Qualifications of an individual are therefore of fundamental importance in the performance of voluntary work. In addition to this, voluntary work involves collectivity in the interest of public good. Recruitment and free-riding are two problems that have to be dealt with (Clary 1998).
The second proposition is that social networks are an important resource for the creation of trust and support. Finally, a cultural component is involved. Wilson and Musick call it a culture of benevolence (1997). Human capital has a direct effect on social and cultural capital levels. The three factors determine the possibility of being a volunteer.
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