ATLANTA, Nov. 29—University and graduate students and young professionals from many nations attended an interactive pre-Convention service workshop at Points of Light Institute, the world’s largest volunteer organization, hosted in collaboration with the 2012 Global Peace Convention in Atlanta.
The Convention, “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Building Strong Families, Healthy Societies and a Global Culture of Service” from November 29-December 2, 2012, is the forth annual international assembly organized by the Global Peace Foundation.
The workshop, part of the Convention’s International Young Leaders Assembly, highlighted elements of service leadership, while equipping young leaders with the tools necessary to identify, recruit and train service leaders within the context of their organizational needs.
Malika Berry, Vice President of Community Impact Programs at the Points of Light Institute, challenged program attendees to think about their roles within their organizations and asked them to define service in the peace-building context. “It comes down to our personal commitment to believe in the power of peace building,” she said.
“We believe that [leadership] should come from the compassion to serve,” said an attendee from Hands on Manila.
“Service is all about forgetting who you are, forgetting where you are from and looking at everyone else just as you would yourself. Working together with others to achieve a common goal is what service means to me at this point.”
Lori Jean Mantooth, a Points of Light representative, explained that by elevating volunteers into leadership roles, you experience a multiplier effect, where an organization’s mission is achieved more effectively because volunteers are dedicated to and knowledgeable about your organizational goals. “One way that we would define a service leader is someone who is driving social change by leading well-managed and sustainable projects and programs,” said Mantooth.
Organizations are often pressed for resources, and rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers and service leaders. In return, volunteers should be entrusted with responsibilities that will develop their skills and competencies so that they become better equipped for the job market.
One program attendee stressed the importance of recognizing volunteers for their service, saying, “Sometimes we have certificates; most certificates are meaningless because they don’t say why, but if in a certificate you identify the content, the competencies, and the implications of their work, you give them something that can assist them in their professional development.”
International Young Leaders Assembly delegates will participate in wide ranging sessions on service, peace building, and education and development initiatives during the Global Peace Convention, “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Building Strong Families, Healthy Societies and a Global Culture of Service.”
Delegates will also attend a Leadership Forum at the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change on December 2 with noted civil rights leaders.
Laura Riley is a graduate student at Emory University in Atlanta.