Volunteer Appreciation Day video


A sassy little way to say THANK YOU to the unsung heroes everywhere. On THURSDAY there’s an Amazon.com great deal on the best volunteer book (according to volunteers around the world). ‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia’. See unsungheroes.net.au for more.

“Such a unique product: stunning photography, inspirational short stories, practical guide… and its a NFP that benefits NGOs!” I Mack

“This book helps to reflect Cambodian’s lives, culture and traditions to the world.” A Panna, Anjali House

” … a fabulous production, full of insightful and engaging stories and information.” L Lynch

“Placing it on your coffee table will guarantee interest and discussion.” M Kelly, OAM

AMAZON SPECIAL for Volunteer Appreciation Day

‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia: People an Projects Making A Difference’ by Lee Anderson, Kerryan Griffin and Shawna Hartley will be 30% off on Amazon.com on JUNE 19 for Volunteer Appreciation Day.

Each copy will receive ‘How To Help in Cambodia: eBook Guide for Volunteers, Travellers and Donors’ for FREE. Orders of 10 books will get 5 beautiful silk scarves from Cambodia. About volunteers, for volunteers, by volunteers – making our world better.


Feel free to share this video with your volunteers – its a great way to say thank you and make them feel HAPPY!

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Volunteer Appreciation Day – JUNE 19


A day to say THANK YOU for all you do

Volunteer Appreciation Day is the day to celebrate unsung heroes everywhere. It’s also our big shout out to all those people who have helped us create UNSUNG HEROES CAMBODIA.

The book features 40+ amazing people and projects but there are hundreds of people behind the scenes that add very valuable time and energy. And that includes everyone who has done something as simple as buying a meal at a small cafe or training restaurant to buying locally made products in Cambodia or in your neighborhood.

Today we want to especially thank all those volunteers who voted for our book as one of the Best Books for Volunteers in general and THE BEST BOOK ON VOLUNTEERING IN CAMBODIA.

On Amazon.com we’ll be offering the book at 30% off as well as giving away a copy of  ‘HOW TO HELP IN CAMBODIA: an eBook Guide for Volunteers, Travellers and Donors’ – its the go-to directory for anyone going to Southeast Asia.

For businesses wanting to get on the good deals – buy 10 copies and get 5 beautiful silk scarves from Cambodia!

This is a great time to get a gorgeous book for yourself – to give to inspire someone to go be a volunteer – and know that you will be supporting 40 NGOs in Cambodia through the purchase of this not-for-profit book.

And to everyone who has helped us put together this amazing project .. a million thanks from us. It would not be the gorgeous book it has turned out to be or the success that it has been in helping so many volunteers find their way and the boost for so many good projects that need a hand in helping Cambodia get back on its feet.


Lee Anderson has an exciting announcement … about Unsung Heroes and Volunteer Appreciation Day.

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Best Volunteer Book awards

A web based survey of volunteers in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia has resulted in Unsung Heroes Cambodia being nominated as one of the Best Books for Volunteers in general and named as the winner in a subcategory as The Best Book on Volunteers in Cambodia.

“For a book that has only been in print for less than a year, this is a very surprising result,” stated co-author Lee Anderson. “And it is a great honour to be included in a list of Best Books for Volunteers along side titles like Lonely Planet and Volunteer Vacations.”

Best Book for Volunteers in Cambodia from Shawna Hartley on Vimeo.

INTERVIEW: Lee Anderson on Unsung Heroes Cambodia being named as one of the Best Books on Volunteering and being voted the Best Book on Volunteers in Cambodia.

‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia: People and Projects Making a Difference’ is a not-for-profit book that raises awareness and funds for the 40+ NGOs featured in it. It is a collection of short stories about volunteers and projects that have helped Cambodia recover from ‘ Year Zero’ that Pol Pot established by destroying all infrastructure and murdering everyone (3.3 million people) with any education of skills.

It features projects across diverse areas of focus and geography, both large and small, from all over the country. Projects that have been working from the beginning in the early 1990’s through to more recently established ones. NGOs included range from single person start-ups to well-known multinationals such as Room To Read and Wildlife Alliance.

The criteria to select which projects to include out of the 3,000 currently working in Cambodia today was diverse and included a grassroots approach and Best Practice policies.

The book provides insight on what what been done and what remains to be done. Additionally it contains a Volunteer Guide with practical information for potential volunteers with direct contacts to projects. Complex ethical considerations are also presented for consideration.

Survey results indicate that the book rates exceptionally high for providing Inspiration as well as Motivation. As a volunteer book it also provides a stunning view of what life is like in Cambodia through images taken all over the country.

It was the only Not-For-Profit book to make the list of Best Books for Volunteers.

‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia: People and Projects Making A Difference’ by Lee Anderson, Kerryan Griffin and Shawna Hartley (2013) is available in Cambodia at Monument Books, at select bookstores around the world, on Amazon and on the website www.Unsungheroes.net.au

To receive more information on the results of the survey, including the List of the Best Books for Volunteers, please register here.

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Volunteering…. Graduating into Mainstream

Back in the dark ages, when I was in high school, if you were a repeat offender of petty crimes, like being late to class, chewing gum and/or your uniform skirt being too short, the principal would resort to sentencing you to community service. Nursing homes and hospitals, mainly.

High School Volunteering has changed

Slap on the wrist first

Today high schools across Australia recognise the value of teaching youth about the joys of helping others. That the opportunity to be of service is a priviledge, sometimes even a duty. Which is a vastly different perspective than punishment.

From as young as year 7 when students are 12 or 13, the concept of volunteering is introduced by teachers in the HSIE (Human Sciences and its Environment) faculty.

In New South Wales, when in Years 9 and 10, all students in Public Schools tare encouraged by the DEC (Department of Education and Communities) Student Volunteering Awards program to undertake a minimum of 20 hours of volunteering.

In appreciation of this contribution to the community, students receive Certificates (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond respectively) for completing 20, 40, 60 and 80 hours of volunteering. Students that achieve 150+ hours of volunteering receive the exclusive Black Opal certificate.

In both private and public schools the Duke of Edinburgh Award has become very popular. Originating in 1956 in the UK, it has spread to over 120 countries. It encourages youth aged 14 to 25 to undertake a balanced program of voluntary self-development activities, and provides achievement awards in 3 tiers from a minimum of 6 months to 18 months. Volunteering is one of the 4 mandatory components, in addition to Physical Recreation, Skill and Adventurous Journey.

Tony Rudd, principal of Manly Secondary Schools in Sydney points out that students not only acquire a more mature view of the world when they study global inequalities but when they work first hand with less fortunate people a number of beneficial side affects can happen. “Firstly, they disconnect from their technology and get the one-on-one connection. Our students that have gone overseas to places like Cambodia, gain an appreciation for the basics of human needs like having clean water and the luxury of a tap that provides it. They come back excited by the adventure of travel to a place so different to what they’ve known all their life, and aware of how lucky they are to live here. They become better students, nicer people.”

In addition to local community service, many schools will offer group participation projects overseas as well as fundraising for projects. It’s a rarity today to find a school without a volunteer program or a coordinator on staff. Over 50 Australian schools have participated in the popular Tabitha Foundation Programs working on building shelter while others have focused on providing clean drinking water with Trailblazers.

Isabel Mack was just 12 years old when she first volunteered on a Tabitha project in Cambodia. “I began to understand how big inequality and poverty is within our world,” she said in the book Unsung Heroes Cambodia. Isabel has now been back several times. “Although we are so distant geographically and culturally I am motivated to help. As a modern Australian teenager/ young adolescent, this experience will always beat getting the latest i-pod or the latest clothes.”

That is a quite a refreshing comment from a young person. When I was 17, I didn’t enjoy collecting the rubbish in the Burn Unit at the local hospital instead of hanging out with my friends.

But today I look back and thank my Catholic high school for planting the seeds of what has grown into one of the most treasured aspects of my life. Including volunteering as a mainstream focus to high school curriculums will teach all students (and not just the naughty) how to add depth and richness to their lives.




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Best Books for Volunteers Survey

UNSUNG HEROES icon sSome very interesting questions have come up and we would LOVE your input.

What books would you recommend for volunteers?

We are conducting a survey which will provide all of us some great resources. If you’d like to share any pearls of wisdom please follow this link. But do it soon as the survey will be closing shortly!


Many thanks!
Lee Anderson, Kerryan Griffin and Shawna Hartley

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Study on Why Volunteerism Makes You Happy

Study Finds Surprising Reason Why Volunteering Makes You Happy
May 2, 2014
By Allison Bond
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Volunteerism has been linked to better mental and physical health, but those effects may come from the personality traits that lead one to volunteer in the first place, not the work itself, U.S. researchers say.

The results call into question the practice of encouraging people to do volunteer work for their own good, but also suggest approaches to encouraging those without a typical volunteer personality to find ways of contributing.

The bottom line, said senior study author Thomas Oltmanns, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis, is that “when people are considering volunteering, there are obvious benefits associated, including to society – people volunteer for many other reasons than just helping themselves.”

It’s well known that people with certain traits are more likely to volunteer. But “those characteristics are also by themselves associated with better health,” Oltmanns told Reuters Health.

In the past, researchers who linked apparent health benefits to volunteer work did not factor in the personality traits that go along with the urge to volunteer, Oltmanns’ team points out in the Journals of Gerontology: Series B.

To tease apart the health effects of those personality traits and the volunteering itself, the researchers used data from the St. Louis Personality and Aging Network, a study of 1,630 adults between the ages of 55 and 64 in the St. Louis community.
Participants answered a questionnaire that included information about whether they currently volunteered, if so, how long they had been doing it and how many hours per week they spent volunteering.

The team also assessed personality traits based on the questionnaire, and used a 36-item survey to gauge aspects of mental and physical health and functioning.

Analyzing these data, the study team found that volunteering was linked to better health. But when personality traits were taken into account, the link disappeared. The health benefits were all explained by the personality traits, not the volunteering.

Regardless of whether they volunteered, people who were more outgoing had better mental health. And those who were less “neurotic” – meaning anxious, guilty and envious – had better physical functioning and mental health.
“We need to keep in mind that different kinds of personality characteristics are associated with volunteering,” Oltmanns said. “If extroverts volunteer, maybe we should find a way to reach people who are more introverted, and under circumstances those people would be more likely to volunteer.”

“The link between volunteering and health shows there is a connection; our study goes toward finding more opportunities for people to volunteer in ways that suit their personality, maybe people who wouldn’t (usually) volunteer,” Oltmanns said.
For instance, he offered, situations “where people find it more compatible, where you don’t have to be extroverted,” such as volunteering to do data entry for an organization. That’s an example of a volunteer activity he has found that some introverts enjoy.

But circumstances beyond personality often factor into whether or not someone volunteers, as well. Among these, life’s transitions – such as the death of a spouse or retirement – can have an impact, he noted.

“Personality traits that make people more or less likely to volunteer may actually be different before and after (a transition),” Oltmanns said.

In a subsequent issue of the same journal, another study examines how volunteering ties into a role many people adopt later in life: Being a grandparent.

It found that grandparents who lived with and cared for grandchildren were less likely to volunteer than grandparents who took care of grandkids, but didn’t live with them. The results were based on a sample of 13,785 people over age 50 who had grandchildren.

A likely explanation is that “intensive caregiving responsibilities may make older adults less able to engage in formal volunteer work,” said the study’s lead author Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda, a sociologist at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
That doesn’t mean that family caregivers don’t reap the benefits of volunteering, according to Bulanda. Instead, it may indicate that the definition of volunteering should be expanded to better capture the many ways people serve others.
“Our study means something important for policies attempting to encourage volunteerism. These policies tend to focus on increasing formal volunteerism, which neglects to include family labor,” Bulanda told Reuters Health in an email.
Under that definition, Bulanda said, “raising one’s grandchildren would not be considered volunteer work,” despite the fact that many family caregivers are “drafted volunteers,” she said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1pMm7cI and bit.ly/1mao2pN Journals of Gerontology: Series B, online April 5, 2014 and April 10, 2014.

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Volunteering is Evolving

A very interesting article in Pro Bono Australia. Use this link — or just read it here.

Volunteering is an act of choice – not an act of benevolence, writes Volunteering Australia patron Margaret Bell AM in this Hot Topic in Pro Bono Australia that covers the new trends of volunteering.

People choose to volunteer today for many and very diverse reasons. Perhaps to meet others, to use skills we don’t want to lose, to try new skills, to gain experience leading to a paid job, or to build self-confidence.

Sometimes we volunteer to mix with people we wouldn’t normally meet, to improve speaking English of to fill spaces created by a major life change like moving house, coming to a new country, to recover from grief and loss, to feel worthwhile, to remain healthy, alert, and engaged and in addition to all or any of the above to put something back into the community.

Volunteers learn more than they think they will and high on the list of learning is the fact that we are going to get more out of it than we find we are able to give, sometimes this is quite a surprise.

Not patronising now, but we are fast moving away from the sense of “doing good to” and more readily embrace the idea of “doing something with” recognising more truthfully that in volunteering there is something in it for me and something in it for you.

This is a healthier and more sustainable position. A model that offers a sense of belonging, and builds on one’s sense of self-esteem. It offers multi-identity opportunities that would otherwise never come our way. There can be seen a new model of reciprocity emerging wherein there is room for all.

Recruitment requires much more creativity. Days are numbered when people want to volunteer every Tuesday and stay with the same organisation for 20 years.

Recruitment and training has to be flexible, available, sometimes exciting and always on going, new types of training are needed all the time.

Training may no longer be applicable only on-site, some online training is needed and extensive use of social media is vital to attract the new age volunteer.

Commitment happens when people feel moved to take action and when they are witnessing commitment in others. Talk about successes.

People choose to volunteer from their own value base, they don’t do it for money, and usually not for power or recognition, they do it because something resonates within. When personal values align with the goals of a project or organisation action takes place and social cohesion is possible.

Exploitation is not on! Volunteers have needs to be met. Travel costs, insurance, meal allowance, uniforms and equipment when used on the job. The same considerations that are being given to paid staff other than receiving a salary. Leaving these things undone causes many people to become unable to volunteer because of out-of-pocket expenses incurred.

People shortages are serious in some areas and for some projects. Voluntary organisations express dissatisfaction in not being able to recruit the right volunteers but keep going back to the same tired sources instead of trying somewhere new. Pubs, clubs, hairdressers, in addition to all manner of social media are good starting points.

Quality campaigns need to be considered, talking to local business and other employers one on one is important, seeking an arrangement for time release in down time, or to attract different age groups of volunteers. Information evenings associated with fun and well-being need to be planned ahead. Events need to be age appropriate.

Use of local adds, letterbox drops, and fresh posters positioned in prominent places where people are constantly reminded of the need for volunteers and the personal benefits to themselves and to the community are a good idea too. Use of multicultural photography demonstrating that all are welcome is important, we all ask, what about me?

In other words make the community needs visible together with a consistent message of who can help.

Connection is important to modern volunteers, we like to see we are part of something worthwhile and frequently use mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, to connect with individuals groups and organisations we want to know about, we use volunteer recruitment sites, they often offer jobs one may need and haven’t even thought of seeking without such a guide.

Social media travels fast, voluntary organisations seeking support need to travel with it and to use it to say please and thank you. Opportunities to pay attention to especially are the designated National Volunteer Week, when we can plan ahead for recruitment and training in second week in May.

Utilising International Volunteer Day on December 5 is also a good day to say thank you to volunteers and to make recognition awards available.

No false praise – don’t patronise volunteers, we don’t need false praise and pampering. Volunteers must exercise the same responsibilities as paid staff in terms of reliability adherence to regulations and conduct on the job. The only difference between paid staff and volunteers should be the negotiated hours of work and agreed levels of responsibility.

New connections are valuable and connections today can be global and local. New partnerships and new technology can make all the difference as governments business and Not for Profit organisations work together with volunteers to save, support and repair whole communities. Such new partnerships will be a key focus of the 23rd International Association for Volunteer Effort World Volunteer Conference on the Gold Coast in September.

The Conference will be hosted by Volunteering Australia in partnership with The National Congress of Australia’s First People, Chain Reaction Foundation, Foundation for Young Australians and Philanthropy Australia. See the Conference website www.iave2014.org.

Volunteering is Today’s Imperative it is a tool at our disposal to use against exclusion and inhumanity, it fosters relationships, goodwill, social justice, social cohesion and a more peace achieving world.


About the Author:
Margaret Bell AM is currently the Patron of Volunteering Australia and Chairperson for the 23rd International Association for Volunteer Effort World Volunteer Conference to be held in Australia in 2014. She is also founding Chairperson of Chain Reaction Foundation working for social cohesion in Australia.

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Tabitha Foundation Cambodia Named Top NGO for Volunteers

From Unsung Heroes Cambodia: People and Projects Making a Difference

Tabitha Foundation does so much more than build houses

Tabitha Foundation has been singled out in ‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia’ for the amazing work being done by volunteers from all over the world in Cambodia…  and the media is talking about it.

Each and every story in this book will re-affirm your faith in humankind. If you don’t have a copy of the book yet, ORDER ONE NOW! It’s a gift for yourself and for  helping some very deserving folks who work miracles with so little US dollars.

MEDIA COVERAGE on Tabitha Foundation

Slowly the word is getting out about which NGOs are featured in Unsung Heroes Cambodia. It’s a great resource for anyone who is interested in going to help as you will have direct contacts to a wide diversity of NGOs that need help. AND you will learn about how to tell a good NGO and how to avoid the bad ones.

Another site that has picked up our story can be found here.
Be sure to see the youtube video (by Stacey Dooley Investigates) that mentions another NGO we feature; Cambodian Womens Crisis Centre.It’s a great story.



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Inside Unsung Heroes Cambodia book

Here’s the inside peek you’ve asked for.

Click here to see it.

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‘Volunteering’ Radio Interview with Shawna Hartley

Trevor Langlands interviews ‘UNSUNG HEROES CAMBODIA’ co-author Shawna Hartley on his Arts and Entertainment show on 2MCR (community radio in Sydney) exploring the many aspects of volunteering.


Why people volunteer in general, and why Cambodia has needed volunteers in particular.

What types of NGO projects have been needed to help the country rebuild itself.

International charity scams and negative media are discussed as well as information on  how volunteers can avoid them.

What are the top 3 things that volunteers – and tourists – should never do when travelling to a third world country?

What age is best for being a voluntourist?

How does it happen that ones good intentions can actually being doing harm to the very people who need help?

What can listeners do today to help in a small way that will have long range and long term benefits?

And finally, what’s next?

Celebrating volunteers … The Next book in the series

Stay tuned, feel free to put forth a guess, or contact us if you are publisher!

Hartley 2MCR Trevar radio interview

slh pic

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