Recently, I had a long chat with a good friend. We were spending time together, virtually as we all do these days, and he asked me if my job was harder because of the pandemic. “Do people still volunteer during the pandemic?”, he pondered with an inquisitive look on my laptop screen. At the time, I thought it was a weird question, because I knew the answer was complex.
Everyone’s job got harder during the pandemic, but we all adapted. We wake up, walk into the living room or a makeshift office in our home, plop down with our coffee, and we get to work. Yet as the days went on, that question still lingered in my mind and made me think about how volunteerism has changed over the last year.
Volunteerism didn’t stop during the pandemic. Folks didn’t pack up the pieces of their heart that cared deeply for others, just to store it away until the coast was clear. No, folks stepped up and showed up in different ways! They called and texted each other. They wore masks and found ways to keep their connections alive. They learned Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and other software just to share laughs and remind each other we weren’t alone. They turned into virtual tutors, medical volunteers, and distributed goods that folks no longer had access too.
At REACH, volunteerism continued on in different ways as well. Food boxes were packed and distributed to survivors in need. The online chat was created and volunteers across the country came together to provide resources and emotional support to folks who didn’t have anywhere else to turn. Volunteers delivered gift cards during the holiday season. And most importantly, volunteers smiled behind masks as they helped do whatever REACH staff couldn’t. Volunteers continued to step up and help, even when the world stayed 6 feet apart.
So during this volunteer appreciation week, I want to say thank you to all of our volunteers. Those who worked, who called, who texted, who emailed, who donated, who organized, and who thought about us over the last year. Whether we are in person, or socially distanced, none of the work we did would have been possible without you. Volunteerism may have changed, but the passion of our volunteers did not. We are so grateful to each and every one of our amazing volunteers and this week we celebrate you!