Many charities and nonprofits have seen a steep increase in the demand for services and support as the pandemic has reached its one-year mark. Despite all the necessary protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help our country move out of this crisis, there is still a plethora of ways to be a successful volunteer during National Volunteer Month, celebrated in April.
You can volunteer in person. Check to see what extra precautions the organization has taken to ensure in-person volunteer safety. Are temperatures taken? Is social distancing enforced? Is thorough cleaning required? Many organizations have likely added their volunteer safety policies to their websites. If you get to the volunteer location and you don’t think they have taken the proper precautions, simply leave and let them know that you didn’t feel safe.
Now more than ever, people are looking for a sense of community. Think about focusing your volunteer efforts on organizations where you live, such as a nearby food pantry. Many local newspapers, such as Patch, an online content provider that focuses on news and events in local markets, list upcoming volunteer opportunities close by.
Consider volunteering with a friend, a great way to both give back and spend some quality time with someone you have missed. If you have a college student taking classes from home, consider getting them involved. College is often a time when one becomes more conscious of social issues, and your college student may welcome the chance to get involved in their community and feel like they are contributing to positive change.
Focus on the things you are passionate about. If children’s literacy is important to you, for example, find a local reading program that will pair you with a child in need. If the environment is a cause near and dear to your heart, look for opportunities, such as assisting in the cleanup of a nature center or public greenspace.
If you have some extra time on your hands, consider starting your own volunteer effort. For example, littlefreelibrary.org teaches you how to start a “little library” in your community. You could also partner with a civic organization or local church to identify specific areas in your community that are underserved. You could source used clothing for residents in need or provide supplies to school children whose families are economically challenged.
There is also a wide range of ways to virtually volunteer. Points of Light Global Network organizes its annual event to coincide with Global Volunteer Month in April. The organization connects virtual volunteers with projects across 37 countries worldwide. Another resource is VolunteerMatch which links passion and talent to important causes. This nonprofit even has a special COVID-19 hub dedicated to coronavirus volunteer opportunities.
If you are concerned about not having the skills or knowledge to be a good volunteer, consider the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. – “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”