Volunteering has been changed by COVID-19, just like many other aspects of life.
But the need is still there, and Volunteer Fraser Valley is there to connect the dots between those who need help, and those who want to give it.
Seniors make up a bulk of the usual, pre-pandemic volunteer force, says Cari Moore, who runs Volunteer Fraser Valley with her husband, Sean.
“I know that a lot of organizations are really hurting right now,” she says. “There’s a whole group of people that want to do things right now.”
But the risk of complications from COVID-19 has kept a lot of the community’s volunteer workers safely at home. Thankfully, the pandemic has also given rise to a new generation of volunteers. Younger people have stepped into the volunteering realm, some with new-found spare time, and others with a new-found urge to help others.
And there’s a type of volunteering for everyone, Moore says. One of the first steps in making a good volunteer match is for the volunteer to do a little soul searching.
“There are things you can ask yourself,” Moore says. “Do you want to volunteer with or without people, inside or outside, short term or long term?”
Opportunities run the gamut from one-time opportunities to once a week commitments.
“The face of volunteering is changing. The baby boomers really want to just get in and get out,” she explains. “They want to go in and do something impactful, and then go onto the next thing.”
And that’s great, she adds.
There are different reasons for every volunteer. But one of the common threads is that volunteering can provide social time. Where Moore works at the Chilliwack Museum, volunteers are still able to come in, following the same safety protocols as the staff members. Everyone is always masked, and there is a complete wipe-down process after each visitor.
But there are other volunteer gigs that have had to be cancelled completely.
“One of our volunteers at the museum is normally Santa Claus,” Moore says, but of course Santa visits had to be cancelled at Christmas. “It was hard to keep his spirits up.”
The biggest need she is seeing in the community is the need for connections with seniors and others who are shut in at home, whether they are living independently or in seniors homes. That can include regular phone calls, dropping off or sending pick-me-ups, and even COVID-19 safe visits in some cases.
People who already are volunteers for an organization can also rethink how they donate their time, Moore says. Many non-profits are struggling through the pandemic as their ability to raise money has been severely hampered by regulations on gatherings.
But they are finding a way, and volunteers can help. For example, she says, Chilliwack Community Services is planning a bike ride event, the Tour de Chilliwack, on May 15. People who normally volunteer with them could consider riding in the event itself.
The final thing Moore wants potential volunteers to know is that signing up for something doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. In addition to her work at the museum, Moore is also on the board of Volunteer BC, and is president of the local Soroptimists Club.
National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24, and she says Volunteer BC is holding a photo contest with the theme The Value of One, The Power of Many. It’s the same thing they had 20 years ago. She is hoping to see local contributions to the contest from organizations. The deadline is April 16.
Photos should show the dedication, caring and compassion volunteers have shown during these difficult times.
For more information on volunteering locally, call Cari Moore at 604-819-1817, or visit www.volunteerfv.com. For more information on the photo contest and National Volunteer Week, visit volunteerbc.bc.ca.
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