Senators, Representatives, IBM, VEGA Tell Trump, Congress to Prioritize Volunteers

FOR RELEASE: Monday, December 5, 2016

Angela Canterbury at 202-445-7887 or
Rebecca Nelson at


Sen. Murphy, Rep. Garamendi, Sen. Wofford, IBM, VEGA, Honor Extraordinary Service—Tell Trump, Congress to Prioritize Volunteers
Congressional champions, government officials, nonprofit organizations, major corporations and thought leaders gathered to celebrate the vital role of American volunteers in effective global development

Washington, D.C. — On International Volunteer Day, December 5, in Washington, D.C., a broad spectrum of youth and skilled volunteers, congressional champions, government officials, nonprofit organizations and major corporations gathered to celebrate the contributions of volunteers to effective global development.

At the International Volunteer Day Forum and Awards Celebration, thought leaders and doers celebrated the vital role of American volunteers, discussed the special value of volunteers in multi-stakeholder efforts to meet this century’s global development and security challenges and called for prioritizing effective volunteer programs and policies in the new Congress and Trump administration.

The heart of the day was an awards ceremony for remarkable volunteers with powerful stories of the impact around the globe and here at home. Awards were given for the exceptional service of seven volunteers who hail from California, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., gave the keynote speech on the value of volunteers and prioritizing volunteer service in U.S. foreign assistance. Former Senator Harris Wofford presented the BBC Award to Steve Rosenthal. Justin Finnegan, USAID, Bureau for Food Security's Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, offered remarks about the successful John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program and presented the award to Charlene Nash of Tennessee, who was also invited to join Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on Dec. 6 at the Tennessee Tuesday Breakfast co-hosted by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Later this week, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. will present VEGA Farmer-to-Farmer SPSP Voluteer of the Year Awardee Neelam Canto-Lugo with a Congressional Commendation.

QUOTES Below. To learn more about the event and the award-winning volunteers click here to visit VEGA’s website and here to visit BBC.

The event host Michael Deal, President and CEO, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), noted the enduring bipartisan support for volunteer service demonstrated by nearly every U.S. president:

“Volunteer service is part of our heritage and shared values as Americans. Today, we come together to honor VEGA’s highly skilled volunteers who not only spur economic growth around the globe, but also create more cultural understanding at home and abroad—all while serving American taxpayers and saving tax dollars. It’s clear that there is both strong supply and demand for volunteer service to help us achieve U.S. foreign assistance goals and meet development challenges to create more security, stability and prosperity. The Trump administration and Congress should expand opportunities for more highly skilled volunteers to make development, national security and foreign policy efforts more effective.”

David Caprara, Chair, Building Bridges Coalition; Nonresident Fellow, Brookings Institution; Vice President, Global Peace Foundation

“Building Bridges Coalition and Service Year, together with universities, NGOs, innovative corporations like IBM and faith-based groups, are pleased to launch a global onramp for international service that builds strong "people-to-people" diplomatic ties and engages youth and many partners to achieve solid development outcomes. On this International Volunteer Day, we look forward to collaborating with the new Administration and the Congress in furthering this private sector-led partnership together with the Peace Corps and other agencies.”

Kathleen Dennis, Executive Director, International Association for Volunteer Effort

“International Volunteer Day is about more than the recognition of accomplishments of volunteers, it’s about acknowledging that without volunteers working in our communities we would not have a civil society.”

Amanda MacArthur, Chief Program Officer, PYXERA Global

“The Sustainable Development Goals are a platform for collaboration. No one sector can make progress on the goals alone. We need tri sector collaboration to address these pressing challenges. Skills based volunteerism is a powerful tool to leverage human capital to make progress on goals.”

Steve Vetter, President and CEO, Partners of the Americas

“We’re happy to co-host the International Volunteer Day Forum and proud to celebrate our organization’s 50+ years of volunteer service in the Americas, working closely with organizations such as the Building Bridges Coalition and VEGA. We’re honored to have Cathy Healy be awarded for her 30 years of service to building partnerships across borders.”

Yasmeen Shaheen-McConnell, Director, Strategic Engagement, Service Year Alliance

“We're excited to be joining VEGA, Building Bridges Coalition, and friends and partners in celebrating International Volunteer Day and honoring Peace Corps Volunteer Peter Ter. Making a service year a common expectation and opportunity for every young American will bridge social divides, put young people on a path to success, and strengthen civil society. We're particularly excited to be working with businesses, higher education institutions, nonprofits, and public sector partners to grow opportunities for young Americans to do a service year abroad, an important component of our mission.”

**These and other speakers are available for comment**

This convening was hosted and sponsored by Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) and co-sponsored by five other broad-based non-partisan organizations representing hundreds of thousands of volunteers—the Building Bridges Coalition (BBC), Service Year Alliance, IMPACT 2030, the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) and Partners of the Americas.

To learn more about the event and the award-winning volunteers, click here.

#IVD2016 (for the global day)
#IVD2016DC (for just our event)

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