In 2014, the WSA was honored to welcome more than 800 volunteers who, in turn, logged more than 13,000 hours on our behalf! They helped us at the National Convention and throughout Awareness Month. They lent their assistance at local conferences, fundraisers, and social events. They are there for us as Board members and Regional Chairs. They participate in our special program initiatives and on Board committees. Volunteers are an integral part of everything we do, providing nearly 2 years of service hours to our membership during just 1 year!
And those are just the hours we can actively log. I know that there are many more of you quietly volunteering in your communities to help those with Williams syndrome – talking to parents of newly diagnosed children, brightening someone’s day in the hospital, calling the WSA for resources on behalf of others when language is a barrier... the list goes on.
It may seem to you individually that your volunteerism is “not a big deal”. After all, it’s just a few hours out of your day, or week, right? As you can see from the statements above, together, you are making an extraordinary impact! You are giving your time and knowledge so that parents of a recently diagnosed child with Williams syndrome can sleep a little better, and look at the future with hope; you are providing care and love for children with WS, and enabling their parents to take advantage of valuable educational programs; you are using your skills as organizers and event hosts and hostesses to help spread awareness of Williams syndrome, and raise funds for critical programs and research; you are doing so many things for the WSA and WSA families that I cannot begin to list them all. But I know that I am speaking for everyone on my staff, when I tell you that each of you holds a very special place in our hearts, and in the hearts of every family of an individual with Williams syndrome whose lives you touch.
Many of you are parents of a child with Williams syndrome – the very people we are working so hard to support. Your volunteerism is made even more meaningful because you are taking time from lives that are already overwhelming to help your peers in the WS Community and the WSA.
Each year during the third week in April, organizations across the nation celebrate their volunteers. We want you to know that we appreciate every parent, relative and friend who helps, and every other volunteer who learns about our organization and reaches out to lend a hand.
One week each year is not nearly enough recognition for all that you do. As the Director of the WSA and far more importantly, as the parent of an individual with Williams syndrome, I think of you and thank you every day. And I sleep easier each night knowing that together we are doing extraordinary things to help individuals with WS and their families meet the challenges of Williams syndrome, and look forward to a future that is brighter now than ever before.