Volunteering in Times of Crisis
By Nancy Wiley
Women keep the earth spinning, the kids moving forward, and the world at peace, when given the chance. Truisms under the best of circumstances, they are even more so in times of crisis. Just look at the Rosie Riveters of World War II, the women micro farmers of Africa, and the single mothers in the US. Check out those who lead some of the most influential organizations right in your own community. If there is a volunteer getting things done, it’s more often than not a woman, one in her 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. We have skills, knowledge, and either more time or better time-management skills than we had during our younger years.
In periods of crisis, people are often looking for a way to connect and help. Although it is easy to become lost in our own fears and anxieties, one of the best ways to deal with those fears is to reach out and help others, those in the community who most need us.
There may be some things we are not able to help with due to social distancing, our age and any health issues we might deal with, but opportunities still exist to make an impact. Here are a few:
1. Students and their parents are in particular need of support right now as parents work to juggle working from home without daycare while also making sure their kids are on track academically. You can have a direct impact on a student by becoming a virtual mentor. You can become part of the Mentor Bank at College Bound or apply to become an online tutor at I Could Be.
2. If you happen to have grandchildren or friends with younger children, offer to check in with the kids via Zoom, Skype or Facebook Messenger and help them with their studies, answering questions, helping with reading, whatever they need.
3. Teachers are educating themselves on how to provide online learning for children who often don’t have the supplies they need at home. If you know a teacher, reach out and ask if there is something they need that you (and your community) might be able to provide.
4. If you’re under 60 and healthy and you have a passion for kids, look to your local school system. Most districts have meal and academic packet pickups, and many of them are relying on volunteers to help staff them.
5. The staff in senior living homes is working longer hours with less support, often caring for adults with dementia who don’t understand what’s going on. Offer to have a meal catered for the staff. Something as simple as Chick-fil-A or pizza at shift change would be greatly appreciated.
6. If you sew, join a local mask-making group or offer to be the fabric cutter if sewing isn’t your thing. You can find local groups on Facebook.
7. Local shelters, homeless families, crisis centers and food banks are all seeing a steep rise in need. Reach out to these places, find out their specific needs, and offer to collect and deliver donations from your neighbors through Nextdoor or your local Facebook group.
There are so many ways you can get involved, improve the current situation in your own communities and stay sane. Reach out. Volunteer. Make a donation. That’s what we do, and that is what will get us all through this together.
Nancy Wiley leads a small non-profit affiliated with Baltimore City Public Schools. When not working, she can be found cycling through the woods of western Maryland, writing at www.nancywileywriter.com or simply enjoying life with her husband, friends and three young adult children!