“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
As 2015 is coming to a close and the holidays are among us, it’s important that we take a moment to reflect on all we’ve accomplished this year. As we do, one thing we know for sure is that we were able to achieve so many things because of the hard work and commitment of countless volunteers, 16,760 of them to be exact! This year, youth and adults from across Georgia and beyond have selflessly dedicated 48,711 hours to our organization, Georgia Teen Institute and substance abuse prevention for one purpose, to create safer and healthier communities.
As an organization of nine, we are truly humbled by the amount of people who are invested in what we do: develop young leaders, educate the community about prevention and train supportive adults who impact young lives across the state. Our organization appreciates all contributions of volunteers, so much so that our personal families also embrace the act of dedicating time to make the world a better place. Collectively, 36 of our family members have volunteered for our organization over the years. Additionally, six of our current nine staff members began as volunteers for GUIDE, as a Board member, Youth Advisory Board member and Georgia Teen Institute staff members.
But it’s not about us. We make an impact in Gwinnett County and throughout Georgia every year because of volunteers, whether they dedicate their time for a few hours to help us prepare prevention packets for a community event; a few days supporting a training or conference; or year after year for a program that is so special to many of us, Georgia Teen Institute.
We are thankful for volunteers like Vernie Cincotta, who has been involved with Georgia Teen Institute (GTI) for over 16 years. She stated, “Knowing I’m helping cause so much change across the state of Georgia and seeing positive community development is the reason I come back year after year. I am constantly inspired here. I feel more open minded because of GTI, and it has made me the person I am today.” Seasoned volunteers like Vernie make such a difference, as they help our younger volunteers develop leadership and facilitation skills, build their knowledge of prevention strategies and enable them to discover that they have the power to positively impact Youth Action Teams they support during the program.
Volunteers like Josselyn Garcia help make our prevention efforts come alive. As one of our previous Youth Advisory Board members, we were so grateful this year when she offered to share her talent of drawing with us for a new Public Service Announcement (PSA). The PSA helped to raise awareness of the impact parents can have on underage drinking prevention and reminded parents of the consequences of providing alcohol to minors. We also appreciate members of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) for volunteering their time to translate the PSA into Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese in order to reach more members of our community.
Throughout the year, there are numerous people who support us before, during and after training events and conferences, including the Shealey Family. As they are compiling notebooks, making copies, assembling folders, cutting reflection keys, or packing materials, you can always find this family smiling and asking what else they can do. Because of them and many others, we are able to engage and effectively train hundreds of prevention and youth development professionals across the state in 2015.
In honor of International Volunteer Day on December 5, we want to pause to celebrate all of our volunteers. No matter the size, their contributions to our work do not go unnoticed; the effects are present everywhere. Volunteerism is vital to our success, and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
We know that volunteers have the ability to change the future! If you are interested in making a difference in Gwinnett County and throughout Georgia in 2016, connect with us here.