In the past, women were only serving in positions of spiritual leadership alongside male rabbis in Orthodox synagogues in Israel. Rabbanit Shira Marili Mirvis was appointed as the sole spiritual leader and halachic authority at the Shirat Tamar Synagogue in Efrat. Rabbanit Shira has made history as she is the first woman ever appointed to […]
COVID-19 continues to interrupt our daily lives so many organizations are asking for virtual help this year.
National Volunteer Week is a huge opportunity for local organizations to inspire their communities to roll up their sleeves and get involved. But with COVID-19 continuing to interrupt our daily lives, how can we help?
Many organizations are still operating under COVID-19 restrictions and have found it difficult to feel connected to their communities. The challenge was that they did not want to miss out on engagement opportunities, so they opted for the virtual solution. Going virtual seems to be the new norm these days with everything becoming available at our fingertips.
But just what is National Volunteer Week about?
The nationally recognized event was established by the United States Government in 1974. Now the holiday is organized by Points of Light, which is hailed as the world’s largest organization that is dedicated to volunteer service.
It is celebrated annually during the third week of April, this year it falls on April 18 – April 24.
Many organizations have opted to extend National Volunteer Week by celebrating the entire month of April as National Volunteer Month. It’s during this time organizations acknowledge and give recognition to their volunteers for their services and also aim to inspire more people to volunteer.
A study from Urban Institute shows that Americans volunteer over 8.8 billion hours annually.
Volunteers all over the U.S. help organizations to fill the gaps in service that help keep many local programs active that we otherwise wouldn’t have.
If you are an organization looking to thank your volunteers but cannot do so in person then use a virtual experience and try the following:
- Host a zoom party and award your hardest-working volunteers
- Send a handwritten card or ask your community to make cards for volunteers
- Thank your volunteers via a blog entry
- Simply call and check on them
- Film a “thank you” video
- Send out exclusive swag
Now where the fun really begins, how can you volunteer during a pandemic? With the shift to the virtual realm, there are now more volunteer opportunities than ever before and here are some ways you can lend a helping hand and continue to stay safe.
- The Smithsonian is offering digital volunteer opportunities, in which volunteers will transcribe hand-written historical documents to make them more accessible to the public
- TED is asking for bilingual or multilingual volunteers to help translate and subtitle TED Talks and other materials to “enable the inspiring ideas in them to crisscross languages and borders.”
- One of my favorites, StoriiTime pairs children with seniors to read together virtually
- Virtual volunteers of the Trevor Project help monitor their website to maintain a safe online community for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Points of Light keeps an extensive list of virtual volunteering inspiration.
- The UN created an online portal for online volunteering activities many of which support women and children.
If you are looking for other ways to volunteer or give back to your community that doesn’t include using a computer, try these approaches:
- Sewing masks
- Fundraising via phone
- Supply gathering (Remember to practice social distancing)
- Donate blood
- Call and check on your high-risk neighbors or elderly in the community
- Send lunch to healthcare facilities or first responders
Volunteering from home may be the best way to spend your time in quarantine. It does not matter what your skills are because there are so many opportunities out there for you to help with. Volunteering may also lead to lifting your spirits and let’s be honest here, we all need that. Studies have found that when we volunteer, it helps to counteract the effects of stress because nothing relieves stress faster than a meaningful connection to another person.
Remember that during the pandemic many nonprofits have increased their needs for volunteer assistance exponentially and every little bit of help counts.