Success for US co-op community at International Volunteer Day awards

Volunteers from NCBA CLUSA and Land O’Lakes were among those honoured at Capitol Hill event

Awards were handed out to the co-op sector in celebration of International Volunteer Day.

The UN-mandated day, held annually on 5 December, gives volunteers and organisations the chance to celebrate their efforts, share their values, and promote their work.

In the US, a gathering at Capitol Hill brought together volunteers, bipartisan congressional champions, USAID leadership and volunteer organisations and experts from the private sector.

An awards ceremony saw Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) honour six outstanding VEGA and Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers for their service.

There were six winning volunteers, three of them working with co-operative development organisations: two from NCBA CLUSA and one from Land O’ Lakes International Development.

“One by one we are sand, but together we are stone. This not only shows the co-operative ideal but also exemplifies the partnership between USAID, Farmer-to-Farmer and the people of Madagascar and other nations,” said Matthew Amato, who was nominated for his work with NCBA CLUSA’s co-operative development projects in Madagascar.

Six bipartisan congressional champions were also recognised by VEGA for their leadership on USAID programmes and policies.

“Our nation’s humanitarian efforts continue to make a significant difference in the lives of people across the world. Through smart investments and diplomacy, the US has saved lives, strengthened our national security interests and created a more stable global community. I will continue to support these efforts,” said Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY), who was introduced by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Cultivating private sector volunteers—in particular from the cooperative sector—is a priority for panellists.

“I continue to encourage drawing on the expertise and passion of the co-operative sector,” said Ryan Donovan, chief advocacy officer for CUNA, who had personally volunteered through a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) assignment.

Other awardees included Erin Schneider, who has volunteered over six times in Senegal with NCBA CLUSA in the past five years.

Land O’ Lakes International Development nominated Kate Coffey, who received the VEGA Volunteer of the Year Award for her work in Sri Lanka.