COVID-19 has majorly impacted physical and emotional health, community, the economy, and essential services. It’s also highlighted the importance of volunteer support for many organizations on the front lines in our community. As people responded to stay-at-home orders, and unemployment began to rise, nonprofits already serving communities in need saw a greater demand for their services. Keeping safety and logistical concerns in mind, Wordbankers have found several volunteer opportunities in Denver. Here’s what we’ve been up to – and how you can get involved in a safe way.
STAYING SAFE WHILE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
It’s important to choose a place where you can be safe, feel passionate about the impact you’re making, and find something that works for your schedule.
If you want to volunteer in person during the pandemic, you should choose an organization that practices and follows CDC and state guidelines. The organization should have screening practices in place for anyone coming onsite. Make sure volunteers are wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and following washing & sanitizing protocols. Many organizations are limiting the number of volunteers or creating schedules with off-hours. This reduces the number of people in the organization at one time.
There are also many ways to get involved both virtually and acting independently. Here are some ways Wordbankers have gotten involved while staying safe:
- Blood donation. Donating blood is critical right now. Appointments can be made in advance, and blood donation centers have implemented temperature screenings, masks, social distancing, and sterilization practices. They also test blood for antibodies to see how your blood may further help COVID-19 patients.
- PPE & supplies. We helped essential workers by donating PPE equipment. Our people have also been donating food, diapers, toilet paper, and other household goods to places like MetroCaring and A Precious Child.
- Colorado Mask Project. Our sewers got to work making masks, not just for themselves and their families, but for friends in healthcare and for other essential workers.
- Skills-based volunteering. Several opportunities involve helping with skills-based projects. Wordbankers have supported various non-profits with graphic design, copywriting, and marketing projects.
- MaxFund. We’re big on four-legged friends, and several Wordbankers have been volunteering at MaxFund for years via our VTO program. During COVID-19, MaxFund has worked to find temporary foster homes for their animals to cut down on the number of staff needed. Many of our people have fostered cats and dogs the last few months.
- Freedom Service Dogs. One of our Wordbankers has become a puppy raiser. This entails raising puppies at home so they can become future service dogs.
FINDING VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES IN DENVER
- Help Now Colorado: The State of Colorado’s COVID-19 volunteering page. They have remote opportunities available and will match based on your interest, skills, and availability.
- Catchafire: A Certified B Corp who offers skills-based volunteering for nonprofits all over the country. You can choose the nonprofit sector and skills you have, and they match you with project-based needs.
- VolunteerMatch: An online community that provides a directory of volunteer opportunities in cities across the US. In response to COVID-19, VolunteerMatch launched a portal specific to promoting virtual volunteer opportunities that aid communities impacted by the coronavirus.
- Volunteers of America: Match yourself to volunteer opportunities that serve people with varying needs, including those experiencing hunger or homelessness, disabled people, veterans, elderly people, and others in need.
- A Little Help: Elderly care & support volunteering opportunities include helping with groceries and medications, doing yardwork, and making phone calls to check in and help with loneliness.
- SciStarter: Become a citizen scientist by working on projects in need of help to advance scientific research.
- Metro Caring: Metro Caring is Denver’s frontline anti-hunger organization. They have moved their food distribution outside, are seeking fewer volunteers for more frequent shifts to reduce the risk of exposure, and require masks.
- A Precious Child: A Precious Child assists children and families facing difficult life challenges such as abuse and neglect, crisis situations, and poverty. They provide children with basic necessities, educational opportunities, extracurricular enrichment, and gifts for holidays and birthdays. They have strict safety measures for in-person volunteering and offer some virtual volunteering opportunities as well.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
- Donations (food, household items, PPE, etc) to food pantries, shelters, hospitals, etc.
- Giving food, resources, or money directly to people in need.
- Reaching out directly to nonprofits you care about to see how you can help.
We’re all learning to live with COVID-19 and the changes to our lives that it’s brought about. Some of us are lucky to be able to conduct our personal and working lives remotely. But we still struggle with feelings of helplessness about the situation that unfolds around us. Volunteering might look different during the pandemic, but you can still make a difference. If you’re looking to volunteer, check out these resources, and make sure your choice is a good match for your safety needs. If you’re able and willing, it’s a critical time to volunteer and help out your local community.