Introducing the Volunteer Recognition Committee

Introducing the Volunteer Recognition Committee

AFS-USA established the National Council, Advisory Groups, and Committees to create a space where AFS volunteers and staff can work together to address organizational needs and/or challenges from a national perspective. These national volunteer groups are forums where AFS staff and volunteers representing different areas of expertise, knowledge, skills, and talents can review different areas of the organization and develop recommendations for how we can improve the processes, tools, and/or resources needed to effectively deliver and support our AFS programs, volunteers, communities, and participants. The article below introduces one of the groups!

AFS-USA values the importance of recognizing volunteers for all their time and efforts devoted to creating valuable experiences for our participants, both inbound or outbound. The National Council created the Volunteer Recognition Committee to ensure a group of dedicated volunteers and staff work toward recognition and appreciation consistently throughout the years. 

  • Each year, the VRC creates strategies to reach out to Area Teams to nominate a Volunteer or their Team for the previous years’ accomplishments. It helps other Volunteers and Teams to see what is being done across the country.
  • Outreach emails are sent to Area Team leaders
  • Phone Calls are made to Area Team leaders to promote and encourage nominations for national and international Awards; and
  • Postal Letters were mailed to key Area Team leaders in December regarding the 2023 Flight Chaperone awards, having been newly reinstated since Covid-19

The VRC focuses on recognition as a positive way to build engagement with Volunteers in the Team and for all Team members to celebrate each other’s contributions to the AFS mission. It also oversees the annual award selection process of USA nominees for both national and international recognition. The VRC develops the criteria such as setting guidelines, developing timelines, and supervising the implementation and presentation of the Awards. 

The VRC’s goals for 2023 include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Continue to heighten the visibility of the various AFS-USA Volunteer Awards
  • Encourage all Area Teams/Chapters to nominate at least one Volunteer for an Award, and consider nominating their Team for the Dream Team Award
  • Continue to enhance the Awards Ceremony to allow for in-person, as well as pre-recorded segments.

In this, the inaugural year of The Peter J. Westort Volunteer Leadership Award, the VRC provided oversight in selecting the first four Flight Chaperone recipients. This award honors the legacy of the late Peter J. Westort, a long-time volunteer and Board Member, who encouraged his hosted students to have careers that enabled them to continue in their global experiences. 

For the second year in a row, we have successfully involved Volunteers in the judging and selection process for national and international Awards. It’s been an exciting opportunity for a wider range of Volunteers to learn more about the criteria for the awards, as well as what Volunteers on other teams are doing to enrich and enhance the experience for Participants, Host Families, and Volunteers on their Teams and in their communities.

The VRC is open to welcoming new members all across the U.S.  If you are volunteer focused, and ready to share your ideas for recognition, the VRC is a great committee to join. If interested, please complete the following form using this link.

Nominations for the 2023 national and international Awards will be accepted June 1 – July 16, 2023.   

For more information about the Volunteer Recognition Committee, please visit the VRC Help & Learning page here.

For information about the annual AFS Awards, please visit the AFS International and AFS-USA National Volunteer Recognition Awards article in Help & Learning.