Group of volunteers at the Invictus Games The Hague in April 2022
Image -
Group of volunteers at the Invictus Games The Hague in April 2022

Volunteering Weaves Us Together

April 16-22 is national volunteer appreciation week in America. It is a time to give thanks for our many volunteers. Every day people are giving of their time and effort to valuable causes, but for them the surprise is often how much they get back from giving.  

Last year we worked with an amazing group of volunteers at the Invictus Games in The Hague. They were from a diverse background. Some with much experience. Others new to the field but willing to learn. We set up training to get them all on the same page. Once we gave them a background in protocol, we reviewed the overall schedule and arrangements for which each volunteer was responsible. The schedule was dynamic and the volunteers had to be flexible. We had to adapt to various schedule changes and each change may have had a domino effect so the volunteers had to work as a team. They had to focus on their part while also being aware of the big picture and how changes within their team affected the entire event. They communicated all movements constantly so the organizers could keep all the moving parts in place. It was a mammoth project, that needed a cool head while being in an environment that was constantly pulling at your heart strings. In the execution of their duties, they could not forget the focus here were the competitors and our purpose was to thank the competitors for their service and elevate them as they face new challenges in a life that has been changed forever by their sacrifices. Volunteering is certainly not a job for the faint hearted. However, as taxing as it may have been many of them will volunterr again in Düsseldorf later this year with even more experience under their belt. Volunteers know their job is not just about executing the manual tasks. The real work is in providing a service that reflects respect and dignity for all. There is much to gain in giving. A life of service is a fulfilled life.

I’ve always said, Protocol serves you, no matter what your field of endeavour. Protocol is about life’s skills and whether you are escorting VIPs at a sports event or children through a museum, basic protocol skills come in good stead. You need to know to walk on the left side of the VIP, you need to know how to communicate with people from all walks of life. Together we are stronger and the teamwork, networking, cultural awareness and communication skills we learn in protocol are very valuable. The structure of life works better in the framework of respect for each other. George Washington compiled a list of "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation" at age 16. Based on earlier rule books from France and England, many of Washington's rules remain useful today: "Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present."[1] Keeping a focus on people is a key function. Those who volunteer know that. They know that the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of respect and dignity. I read a story where a man responded to a person who was looking for someone to share some extra change with him, “Sorry brother, I can’t help you, I don’t have any cash on me”. The man responded, “you have already given me a great gift in calling me “brother”. Connection to people is important for our soul, and the reason why I enjoy this career field so much.  

During Covid many people volunteered to do Covid testing or assist in the registration process of getting vaccinated. People found ways to safely come out of isolation in order to assist others. One of my colleagues in the protocol arena told me she did exactly that when the protocol branch was unable to receive guests. In fact, a number of my colleagues have told me they stumbled upon their profession by accident while they were volunteering and then realized there was a job that was dynamic, where you are constantly learning, growing and meeting new people.   

The lessons of life that protocol officers learn in the execution of their duties make them great volunteers. We are aware of the importance of simple courtesy and how our actions or inactions affect others. One of my former colleague volunteers as a docent at a museum in the USA. His protocol training has made him stand out as a great escort to major donors to the museum or to young children. He understands his job is to meet each guest on their level and make them feel important while learning something new about the art in the museum. Keeping respect and an open mind means we are always growing and learning something new as we adapt to various situations in life.  

Former anthropologist Margaret Mead determined the first form of civilization was a broken femur that had healed. This was evidence that a person had taken time to care for another person. The art and science acquired in the field of protocol elevate lifestyles to one of service to each other.  

The national volunteer week theme for 2023 was “Volunteering Weaves Us Together”. This reveals the importance of volunteering to the strength and vibrancy of our communities through the interconnected actions we take to support one another.  

[1] George Washington Quote, Every action ought to be with respect to those that are present (

Looking for advice or training support for your next important event? Contact us for a professional consultation session.

Contact us
Cookie Consent

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.