On December 5th, the United Nations celebrates volunteers all over the world with the hashtag #IVD2021.

By Pierina D’Amico

In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) invited all countries to celebrate “International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development” (IVD) every December 5th through Resolution A/RES/40/212. In this document, the organ urged nations to “heighten awareness of the important contribution of volunteer service, thereby stimulating more people in all walks of life to offer their services as volunteers, both at home and abroad”.

Since then, the day has been observed without fault around the world. In fact, 2001 was declared “International Year of Volunteers” (IYV) through UNGA Resolution A/RES/52/17. 2021 marks its 20th anniversary, as well as the UN Volunteers programme (UNV)’s 50th anniversary.

The theme for this year’s International Volunteer day is “Volunteer now for our common future”. With it, the UN aims to “inspire people, whether they are decision makers or citizens of this world, to take action NOW for people and the planet.” Everyone is welcome to join the campaign by posting a photo, video or graphic on social media while using the hashtags #IVD2021 and #VolunteerNow.

For this year’s IVD, events are being held in many countries worldwide. Particularly in Latin America, there are celebrations planned in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. More information can be found here.

Latincouver, of course, joins the world in observing this day. And especially so since it was recently nominated as a finalist for the category Best Nonprofit Employer (+20 Staff) in CharityVillage’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards. Reacting to the nomination, Founder and Director Paola Viviana Murillo made sure to commend all volunteers and staff for their hard work.

Meanwhile, her own contributions have been recognized too, as Paola was named one of 2021’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners. Part of this distinction celebrates the thirteen years she has dedicated to Latincouver.

Originated in 2008 and officially founded in 2009, Latincouver has seen hundreds of volunteers contribute to its main goal: becoming British Columbia’s Latin American Plaza.

Among them is Gabriela Rentería, Spanish Proofreader and Event Photographer. Born in Mexico, she started volunteering at Latincouver in October 2021, months after moving to Canada. In her words, “volunteering makes you feel part of a community; at the same time, it reinforces how important it is to give back.”

Speaking from Argentina, Marketing Coordinator Vanesa Van den Bosch recalls her own virtual journey with Latincouver. It all started at the beginning of 2021, when she decided to use her free time during the pandemic to do something meaningful.

Now, months after joining as a volunteer, she reflects on her experience: “I’ve found like-minded, warm, brilliant and funny people. I’ve found friends. I’ve found people that I care incredibly for, even though I’ve never met them in person. I’m happy to see Latincouver and find a part of me in it. Not only mine but every volunteer’s part. To see the love and dedication in every work, every email, every project. So that’s Latincouver to me, it’s people. They are the essence of my journey.”

Pablo Zacarías, Executive Director, recognizes the role that people like Gabriela and Vanesa have played in Latincouver’s history:

“Volunteers are the blood and bones of Latincouver.  As a non-profit organization we rely on the amazing energy and support of our volunteers to be able to make our programs possible and the overall existence of our organization.

We are proud to say that we are the first stop of many newcomers, specially from Latin America, as their first Canadian experience, and many of our volunteers have even become full-time staff with the organization.

Volunteering is a fabulous way to tackle isolation, make friends, improve your professional skills and grow your network.

In over a decade of Latincouver, we have even seen people getting married after meeting volunteering in our organization, and that puts a smile on our faces.

We are forever grateful to each and every person that has volunteered for Latincouver and I wish that all of them are doing great in their lives.”


UNGA Resolution 40/212: Adoption of 5 December as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (IVD), UN Volunteers, 17 December 1985

Background – International Volunteer Day, United Nations, No date specified

Volunteer now for our common future – International Volunteer Day 2021 campaign launched, UN Volunteers, 5 November 2021

International Volunteer Day 2021, UN Volunteers, No date specified

LinkedIn, Paola Viviana Murillo, October 2021LinkedIn, Paola Viviana Murillo, November 2021

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