Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Helping Out: The Coronavirus and Beyond

Feeling helpless in the pandemic? Many organizations want and need your volunteer assistance.

Reading the headlines, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the pandemic. The problem is so large that it can feel like there is nothing one person can do, or that it is impossible to know where and how to start. But volunteering can be one of the best ways to get back a sense of control. What to do?

There are many ways to help your community, and it is not as hard as you think to find something that you will enjoy. In this article, we talk about a variety of ways to assist others through this difficult time. Some require training or expertise, but many do not. It all depends on how much time you have available. Regardless of what that number of hours may be for you, you will get a feeling of satisfaction knowing that you’ve helped your community through hard times. 

  • Many older adults are feeling isolated and lonely. If you know any in your neighborhood, knock on the door or leave a note. Offer to pick up groceries or a ride to essential appointments. On a larger scale, many communities are seeking volunteers to provide friendly phone calls to homebound adults. One such organization is Dorot. Based in New York City, Dorot provides weekly “caring calls” to battle social isolation.
  • While the pandemic is going on, there is still a need for blood donations to help people such as accident victims or people undergoing surgery. Modern techniques are completely safe and sterile, and free antibody testing is available for all donations at the time of this writing. Schedule an appointment through the American Red Cross
  • Check your Area Agency on Aging to find the local senior center for a city or county. You may find the center itself could use a pair of hands, or it can hook you up with local, state and/or federal programs such as Meals on Wheels.
  • Volunteer Match serves as a clearinghouse to connect organizations that need help with people willing to give their time and talent. They have thousands of opportunities connected to COVID-19, from homeschooling and literacy projects to virtual volunteering. This runs the gamut from grant researchers to finance and funding coordinators. Some positions are entry-level, others offer training, and a few require previous knowledge and/or experience. Most are flexible and will work around your schedule. 
  • Points of Light is the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Do you have an interest in music or art? Share it with an isolated older adult in “self-help.” Or perhaps you would like to man a crisis text line to provide emotional support for people under pressure from job loss or general uncertainty. You will be screened and undergo self-paced training before signing up for one four-hour shift per week. Other opportunities include scanning or editing books, translating texts, researching documents to expose human rights violations, or helping make the Smithsonian collection more accessible.
  • The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is always looking for retired business execs to support and counsel small businesses. Choose to be a mentor, subject matter expert, workshop presenter or chapter support person. Time commitments vary from a few hours a week to a few hours per year. You will get to collaborate with other executives while having the satisfaction of helping out community entrepreneurs. With small business taking such a hard hit lately, it is a great way to help the economy while making the most of your talents.
  • Contact tracing is certainly a (volunteer) job for our times. Take an online training course from Purdue University Global online at your own pace. At the time of this writing, the course (including materials, readings, assessments, a video and several practice scenarios) is being offered for free. Your passion for public health can help protect your community and reduce the spread of COVID-19. You may be able to get paid for this work. Check here for details.
  • Hunger in America is a reality. Nearly every community has a food bank for people in need. With millions of Americans out of work, there is no better time to help with a food drive, organize donations or distribute food to people who need it. Feeding America has an easy search tool to find the food bank nearest you. 
  • The unique skills of military veterans are sought by Team Rubicon, an organization that responds to natural disasters and humanitarian crises across the U.S. and the world. Disasters don’t stop during a pandemic, and neither does Team Rubicon, which continues to help with floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and more in areas already struggling with the pandemic. 

As you can see, volunteer opportunities are only limited by your imagination! You may make lifelong friends, find your true passion, or simply discover a way to help your country during challenging times. Your contribution does count, both to the individuals you assist and on a broader level. Donate your time with pride and enjoy the experience.

Click below for the other articles in the August 2020 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors