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International Volunteer Day – December 5, 2012



Message from CACL President Laurie Larson

Today marks the UN’s International Volunteer Day which was established by the UN General Assembly on December 17, 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on December 5th.

As President of CACL I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the many, many volunteers, past and present, who have contributed and who continue to contribute so much of their time, skill and passion to our cause of creating a world that is inclusive of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families.

From our humble beginnings over 50 years ago, gathered around kitchen tables, our volunteers have built a movement with global reach.

The ways in which our volunteers contribute are many and varied.  Our volunteers began their efforts by creating a place – a space by and for families - where they could share their fears, hopes and vision for their child's life.  They took their efforts from kitchen tables to church basements and by the early 1960s parents and community volunteers had created over 1000 services in communities across Canada.  They worked to close institutions, have human rights for individuals with disabilities included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, supported the birth of the self-advocacy movement in Canada and contributed to the creation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Today, thousands of volunteers have expanded their activities to support boards of directors, sit on school boards, and human rights commissions, and volunteer their time to create inclusive communities through their support to friends and families, teachers, employers, and community agencies.  And we are growing the many ways that volunteers engage in our movement - from contributing online to blogs and through social media, to engaging government and elected officials in conversations about how to build an inclusive and accessible Canada.  The efforts of our volunteers have driven so very many positive and progressive changes to Canadian society over the past decades.

We all acknowledge that we have far to go to achieve complete success but remain committed heart and soul to reaching our goals.  It is due to this unshakable belief in our vision and the commitment and dedication shown by our volunteers that I am confident in our ability to reach those goals.

Once again, thank you to our volunteers!  We would not be where we are today without you!

Laurie Larson

Below is the message today from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations:


As we celebrate the impact of volunteers on our world, let us remember the many places they are needed: in war zones and classrooms, in hospitals and homes – wherever struggling people seek a helping hand.
Let us also remember that volunteering can embrace all people, from the activist who works full-time for a cause to the occasional citizen who reaches out when he or she can. Each sets an example of the spirit of compassion we need. Each makes a valuable contribution to reaching our common goals.
The timeless act of volunteering in the service of others has taken on new dimensions in today’s digital age. Anyone with an Internet connection or a mobile phone can make a difference.
I applaud all people who volunteer each year for the benefit of their communities. I am especially grateful to the 7,700 United Nations Volunteers who support efforts to prevent conflicts, help societies recover from fighting, promote sustainable development, assist in crisis situations and carry out numerous other projects for the greater good. Their work has advanced the Millennium Development Goals, and I am confident they will also contribute to progress on the post-2015 development agenda.
Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.
On this Day, let us renew our determination to offer strength and inspiration to others through volunteerism.