Did you know 211 can connect you with volunteer opportunities? In partnership with VolunteerConnector, 211 can help you find available volunteer positions based on your interests, skills and who you want to help. 211 can also coach you on how to use the VolunteerConnector website on your own. To reach 211, dial 2-1-1, text INFO to 211, or click “live chat” at www.ab.211.ca.
By Ilya Ushakov | Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations
In honour of national volunteer week April 19-25, 2020, here are three important elements to consider when volunteering during this pandemic:
Stay Safe, Stay Cautious, and Stay at Home
Although our first instincts may be to focus on how to help, the best thing you can do in this situation is prioritize yourself and your health, and this often means staying home. This assists with community efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you must go out in public, ensure that you practice social distancing.
If you are in a situation in which you choose to volunteer, ensure you are taking every precaution possible including:
- Regularly washing your hands
- Practicing social distancing
- Limiting contact as much as possible
- Talk with the organization you’re volunteering with about their policies and procedures around COVID-19
When in doubt, defer to the advice of volunteer managers. Not only will their insight be the most accurate, but your cooperation will go a long way in lessening their stress and workload during this time.
Also, be cautious when managing or volunteering for grassroots initiatives without clear and comprehensive guidelines and screening procedures. Unscreened and unofficial volunteers put themselves and initiatives at risk of being held legally liable for damages or injuries that occur while volunteering.
Consider Remote Volunteering
Remote volunteerism and microvolunteerism are fantastic alternatives if you’re eager to contribute to your community, while providing options for you to use some of that at-home time in a productive manner.
Remote volunteering allows you to volunteer from the comfort of your own home. While charities and non-profits assess and identify their greatest needs from volunteers, there are easy and effective options for you to consider without needing to leave the house.
- Have phone/video conversations with seniors, many of whom struggle with social isolation even without a pandemic affecting their social lives.
- Connect with your family and loved ones often. Even a short phone call every few days can have a hugely calming affect on you and those around you.
- Support local business through donations, purchasing gift cards for use at a later date, using delivery services or leaving great reviews for them online.
- Volunteer Connector keeps an ongoing inventory of volunteer opportunities, including remote volunteering.
Microvolunteering is defined by several key aspects, including a short time commitment, volunteering centered around a specific project and primarily done on one’s own time. There are multiple online resources with information on how you can contribute. Here are some examples of microvolunteerism:
- Signing a petition for cause you’re passionate about.
- Creating craft kits for children.
- Editing and formatting documents.
- Quilting for those in need.
- Helping with snow removal. This could help reduce risk of virus exposure for your neighbours and vulnerable citizens.
There are multiple opportunities available on Volunteer Canada’s website. Click here to learn more and find your microvolunteerism opportunity.
Support Your Community!
Left unchecked, isolation can become quite harmful to many individuals. A fantastic way to support those around you is to maintain conversations through daily or regular check-ins by phone or videoconference. Physical distancing doesn’t mean we can’t stay social; get creative to ensure those around you feel supported.
For more information about mental health and COVID-19, we encourage you to visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website.
It can be incredibly difficult to cope not just with isolation, but also with the acceptance that, in this case, our efforts to help may cause more harm than good.
By diverting your efforts towards a virtual space and maintaining social distancing, you can have a profoundly positive impact on our society, both immediately and long-term.
In the meantime, we encourage you to share your favorite volunteer activity, organization, or story with your friends, family and on social media to maintain Alberta’s incredible volunteer spirit.
That way, once we transition back toward our usual patterns of daily interaction, our thousands of non-profits and charities will have no problem finding their next star volunteers.
Thank you to The Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations for providing the content for this blog post.