Celebrating Volunteers

Apr 11, 2011

by Adrienne Yee, SCI–Bay Area Development Coordinator

In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon signed an executive order establishing National Volunteer Week to recognize volunteerism at local, state, and national levels. In 2011, National Volunteer Week occurs April 10 through April 16.

At the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Bay Area’s International Maritime Center (IMC), volunteers give their time and talents every day of the week, and this year, we celebrated them a little early. On March 12, 2011, we welcomed 30 volunteers and their guests for food, fun, and fellowship. The gathering gave some volunteers who work on different days the opportunity to meet each other for the first time, while others reconnected and shared stories of their passion to help mariners from around the world.

One volunteer, Gunhild Jones, shared with me her story. Gunhild grew up in Norway with a seafaring father. In 1954, her father came to the United States to help his brother fish for salmon in Alaska. When the season ended, he ventured to San Francisco and volunteered at the Scandinavian Mission for Seafarers, an activity in which Gunhild eventually joined him along with other family members including her grandmother who, although blind, learned to knit socks for mariners.

After reading newsletters from the Seafarers’ Ministry of the Golden Gate, one of the ecumenical partners operating from SCI’s Center, Gunhild began to volunteer at the IMC. Each Wednesday for more than a year, Gunhild’s friendly “Hello!” and warm smile have greeted every visitor, including mariners, longshoremen, and truckers, entering the IMC’s front door.

During this week celebrating volunteers, SCI says thanks to all of the individuals who help us in our ministry to mariners. We recognize the value of the work of Gunhild and others like her—without which we could not operate. If you would like to learn more about volunteering at SCI, email volunteer@seamenschurch.org