T.S. Eliot famously wrote “April is the cruellest month,” but we know that in many ways April is actually the opposite, because it’s when we celebrate one of the kindest and most generous things anyone can do — volunteer.

Over the last couple of years, through some of the worst of the pandemic and its aftermath, we’ve taken a special look each April at the enduring spirit of volunteers, and the many benefits of giving time and pitching in. That goes for both the organizations that are helped and for volunteers themselves, as research shows they often enjoy improved physical and mental health. Volunteers pour their hearts into what they do, and the American Heart Association looked at why volunteering can be good for you.

Opportunities to get involved abound during April’s Global Volunteer Month, with a special focus during this year’s National Volunteer Week, April 21-27. Points of Light, whose mission “is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world,” notes National Volunteer Week was established in 1974, and “has grown exponentially each year.”

50 years later, Points of Light says its Global Network totals 16.7 million hours of volunteer service each year, engaging 3.7 million people in 39 countries.

The latest numbers from Independent Sector’s Value of Volunteer Time report show the estimated national value of each volunteer hour is $31.80, and in New Jersey it’s $33.82.

NJ Center for Nonprofits says more than 1.8 million people volunteer at New Jersey nonprofits annually, providing more than 225 million hours of service.

At The Munshine Group, we see the power of volunteers to strengthen the missions of the nonprofit clients we partner with. JFCS of Greater Mercer County, which offers a wide range of social services and programs to people of all ages and backgrounds, is grateful for its volunteers. Michelle Napell, the organization’s Executive Director, says “At JFCS, we have an incredible network of volunteers. They give what they can of their time to pack a bag at the pantry, to deliver meals to seniors, to help at an event. Their individual efforts add up to a collective impact that echoes across our agency and our community. Without our volunteers, many of our services would be unsustainable. They are truly part of the JFCS team.”

JFCS recognizes some of its extraordinary volunteers with its Help & Healing Awards, and Pamela Zaifman, a 2024 honoree, says, “As a volunteer, it’s been my privilege to participate in the remarkable programs and events offered by JFCS. I’m grateful for the experiences that you’ve made available to me and for the friendships that came along as the dividends. Please know that the small part I play in supporting the JFCS mission is very meaningful to me; it feeds my soul and connects me with a caring and kind-hearted community.”

Fellow honorees Gloria and Dan Dempsey echo that feeling, saying they were inspired by seeing “the enormous work done by a relatively small team in Mercer County.” They added, “Running the food program and trucks alone is a mammoth task. There is a lot of hard work put into every event, but they are always fun, and friendships have been formed.”

Helping others. Helping yourself.

As Points of Light says “National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world. 

Points of Light continues, “Each year, we shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve, recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent and voice to make a difference in their communities.”

We recognize and celebrate all the volunteers who are making a difference, and whose light shines as a bright example for us all, every week and throughout the year.