New comes today of the passing of A.E. Griffith Bates, Jr. You won't recognise the name. You won't have seen pictures of him chained to anything. He's probably never appeared in any of the many books about Greenpeace. But he was an extraordinary example of the many ordinary people around the world who make Greenpeace work.
Mr. Bates was a volunteer.
Since 1991 he donated an amazing 25,000 hours of his time.
It was an extraordinarily generous gift, and in 2007 it won him the Phyllis McCarthy Public Interest Service Award, which is presented by the US organisation Public Citizen annually to unsung heroes who make great contributions to a cause but rarely, outside of their own organisations, are known or given credit for their efforts.
Uncharacteristically in Greenpeace's easygoing first-name culture, he was always granted the respect of being called "Mr. Bates" and he volunteered in the finance department: a place where few volunteers wanted to go, preferring more glamourous assignments. He was methodical, meticulous, and put great effort and personal initiative into creating archives for photos, documents, and the daily detritus that appears insignificant in its own time, but becomes living history when carefully catalogued and preserved.
He worked until two months ago at our Greenpeace USA office in Washington, DC, and passed away in his sleep at the age of 77.
Mr. Bates is but one of the people who labour behind the scenes and below the decks.
Greenpeace was founded by volunteers, and without them the organisation would be nowhere. They're often incredibly dedicated, passionate, hardworking, and quietly committed individuals. In a world in which General Motors spends in three days the equivalent of Greenpeace's entire global annual budget, that kind of help can make a huge difference.
Thank you, Mr. Bates. Your spirit lives on in every volunteer in every Greenpeace office around the world.