by Luiz Correa
translated by Joel McDonald
In November 1997, the United Nations General Assembly (UN) proclaimed 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers. The history of volunteering is connected with the very history of the actions of individuals in relation to their peers.
The growth of the first towns and cities and the movement of people away from their families required new forms of social assistance. The earliest Egyptian civilizations, for example, had a severe moral code based on social justice. Such laws encouraged people to volunteer work, for example, transporting a poor person across the river, without charge.
“The first Christian churches created funds to support widows, orphans, the sick, the poor, the disabled, and prisoners. The faithful were expected to bring donations voluntarily placed at the table of the Lord so that the needy could receive it from the hands of God. The first legacies were authorized by the emperor Constantine I, in the year 231 A.D., making possible the donation of resources for charity. In the Islamic world, philanthropy was used to set up large hospitals. Remote examples of misery funds also came from Islam, when indigent patients received five pieces of gold as soon as they were discharged.” (Hudson, 1999, p.22)
Volunteer organizations have always played a very important role in maintaining humanitarian values, directing their efforts to obtain more substantial results and maintaining working relationships that privilege individual values such as ethics, respect, and contribution.
The world today does not exist without the support of these organizations that have helped people around the world, fighting hunger, disease, persecution, injustice and bringing a little hope; helping people to overcome their difficulties, spiritual or material.
Affirmation is among these organizations. Its main objective is to bring the social and spiritual welfare of its members. Around the world, there are thousands of volunteers distributed in countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, who work to provide a community of support for thousands of LGBTQ Mormons seeking self-acceptance and save lives.
Affirmation seeking to provide knowledge and training to those working to support others. Starting at last year’s Affirmation International Conference in Lake City, Affirmation started providing suicide prevention training to conference attendees in English, Portuguese, and Spanish so that they may return to their countries and assist others in native languages.
Translators note: With Affirmation’s focus on organizing new and strengthening existing chapters throughout the United States and Canada, there are even more ways to volunteer to support LGBTQ Mormons, their family members, and their friends. If you’d like to get involved in your local area, please click here to let us know!