As New Year’s Day approaches, we still are being told to stay home as much as possible and wait to be vaccinated. This has taken a toll on community volunteering. Instead of thinking volunteer options have disappeared, the reality is that there are new virtual opportunities ready to be engaged this coming year.
It have been heart-warming for me to receive messages from persons inquiring how they can become involved in community volunteering during these times.My prompt response from young to old is that there are many ways volunteers can get involved to not only help, but become more acquainted with some new community members. Even though it may not feel like the ole’ fashion in-person relationship building, these acts of volunteer outreach keep the home fires burning.
The Senior Center has a list of isolated seniors, who would smile if a community member phoned them and said, “The Senior Center gave me your name as someone, who lives alone and I would enjoy a phone conversation with you. Maybe I could tell you about myself and I would like to get to know you.” The approach is not one of charity, but one of getting to know someone as community friends. If you would like to volunteer in this way, please email Stephanie D’Amico the Executive Director to receive contact information at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In January, the Parent Education Work Group will be setting up a weekly scheduled Zoom meeting for elementary students participating in the Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center (21stCCLC), an after-school enrichment, mentoring and tutoring. A volunteer will need protective child clearances, child safety training and parent permission. (The organizer will help with this) and then the enrolled volunteer could join and be placed in a break-out room to talk to a child about his/her school day. In other words, this volunteer is taking time to become a weekly community friend. To sign-up or learn more--- email Elizabeth Garduno at: ElizabethGa@cciu.org
One community member I spoke with was interested in learning some dance moves and was inquiring whether the After the Bell virtual programs for Kennett Middle School students would be interested in making a switch in one of their classes. Instead of the students being provided a program, the students would be set-up to become the teachers for demonstrating free-style dancing with volunteers.
This is an example of a community member being creative and suggesting a novel way to interact with the youth and trying to stay involved in the community. The next After the Bell session starts at the end of January. Contact the Executive Director, Dawn Doherty Kohl if you’d like to become a volunteer for any of the After the Bell virtual programs or discuss a creative idea with her. Email: email@example.com
Community Learning Pods are still in place in Southern Chester County with Kennett Square opening one in the new year. With all the public health protocols in place, there is a call for volunteers to be monitors in small settings with students engaging online school. This request is for in-person volunteers for 3 hours a week who work at the site and also help as playground monitors. Along with this, there also are some virtual tutoring opportunities. Kate Daneker would be the contact person to find out the sites where volunteers are needed. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
If none of these suggested ideas resonate with your talents and interests, you could always show up at the next virtual Bridging the Community meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 7pm by Zoom. In this forum, you will learn about the needs and resources in the community and discover ways to become involved as a volunteer. Email Joan Holliday for a Zoom invitation at: email@example.com
Recently I heard a therapist speak about the unhealthy impact that the term “social distancing” has on our lives. The point being, it would be better expressed as “physical distancing,” which still leaves space for being social. We all need social connections to stay healthy.
It will be some time before we can gather in community circles. Choosing to become involved in a virtual volunteer opportunity is one way to encounter a community space and be enriched by the relationships waiting to be developed