We are all living in a new reality with shelter-in-place. While some of us are continuing to work, others are wondering when they will be able to work and worrying about paying rent. While some of us are crowded with the kids at home, others are living alone and scared to leave the house. Whatever your new day-to-day has become, it is an adjustment for us all!
I am reassured by the volunteers in our network that have contacted me over the past few weeks to find out how they can help their neighbors during this unprecedented time. We live in a community of people who care and I am grateful that I can help in a small way to connect people with nonprofit and community organizations that provide essential services to people in need.
If you are a volunteer with one of our programs you know that we have put all non-essential services on hold and have adapted our services to meet the immediate critical needs of some of the most vulnerable in our community. We need your help to carry these tasks forward.
We are now providing food distribution, grocery shopping support, recruiting volunteers to staff our county emergency shelters, and we are enlisting volunteers to sew masks for county operations.
At the Volunteer Center, we’ve been collating volunteer requests from service providers and keeping an updated list, along with other updates related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, on our website. We’ve also launched the COVID-19 Volunteer Registry, where you can express interest in being matched with a community program that needs healthy volunteers to provide services. When you register, you will receive regular email updates about volunteer needs as they arise.
During this time, providing refuge for our unhoused population in Santa Cruz County is a priority. Shelter services are expanding to accommodate more people, allowing for increased access to basic needs and space to permit social distancing. With this expansion, volunteers are needed to support the day-to-day operations of the new emergency shelters in Santa Cruz and Watsonville. There are opportunities to help with cooking meals, distributing food, and receiving requests for essential supplies from residents.
I’ve been touched to receive messages medical professionals offering to volunteer their time to help. People with a medical license who would like to offer their professional services on a voluntary basis can register with the Medical Reserve Corps to stay connected as health needs continue to rise.
It’s also been important for me to acknowledge that staying home and practicing social distancing is a vital way we can serve our community at this time. However, even from our homes, there are ways to help out and let others know that we care. We have put together a list of volunteer projects you can do at home if you’d like to give back while limiting interaction with others.
One of these projects is sewing fabric masks for the County Health Services Department that will be distributed to volunteers meeting critical needs in our community and Health Services programs and partners.
While many things in our lives have changed, there are some traditions we are keeping alive, such as the 40th Annual Human Race! This 6-week, online, collaborative, community fundraiser is now live and every local nonprofit, school and community group needs your support more than ever! We hope you will join us as a virtual Human Race Fundraiser and support your favorite program. Every person who can help spread the word is an immense help to local organizations.
As we continue with our lives in this new reality, remember that community service comes in many forms, and even small gestures can make a big difference during this time of uncertainty. Taking the time to call a neighbor, prepare food for a housemate, or play a family game are simple ways we can stay connected and lift the spirits of those around us, wherever we are.
Blog Post written by Christina Thurston our Director of Volunteer Connections. Christina started her work with the Volunteer Center as a teen volunteer and has played a crucial role in the development of our Volunteer Mobilization Department over the past 10 years. She is passionate about inclusive communities and loves finding ways for people to connect.