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Volunteering in a pandemic

For many of us, it was not just our paid jobs that got shut down in March of 2020 but also our volunteer roles. As the world “returns to normal” the truth is that Covid is still circulating widely in our society and likely always will be. Experts say this is our new normal. So, what does volunteering look like in 2022 and beyond?

Some roles are simply gone
There are some roles that currently no longer exist and may not return for awhile. For example, if the volunteer position involved working closely with a vulnerable senior, then it’s quite possible that the role is simply no longer in existence. Or maybe there was a volunteer role supporting a particular staff position or department that got downsized due to Covid and may not return or will take some time to do so.
It’s important to remember that this happens from time to time – even without a pandemic. As our technology evolves, business models and non-profit needs change, so do volunteer positions. The key is to be adaptable. If the cause is still important to you, then you may want to stay involved with that particular non-profit, just in a different volunteer role. Think of what it was you liked best about the old volunteer position and talk with the Volunteer Coordinator to see how you can still find a role that fulfills you in the same or a similar way.
 
Some roles are modified
There are many volunteer roles that changed because of the pandemic. The needs of the people that are served by the non-profit may not have gone away by the way in which those needs got met adapted. For example, pre-Covid, you may have been a volunteer teaching a class but when the school shut down to in-person learning, then the role adapted to an online format only.
This can feel daunting if you have to get used to new software programs and a new way of performing your tasks. Remember that everyone was and continues to adapt and learn together. Zoom is still glitchy, it’s still awkward to know whose turn it is to talk, and freezing screens will forever be annoying but look how far we’ve come. The key it so have some patience – with the non-profit and with your self. There will always be growing pains – but they are also surmountable problems and can result in an equally satisfying volunteer experience.
 
Some roles are now online
When getting together indoors and in person was not considered safe, many roles went to an online format. In some cases, this is a good thing and a way to be more inclusive and in other roles, people may be feeling disconnected.
Again, it’s a level of comfort with various online meeting platforms or maybe you’ve even had to talk on the phone!

Some roles are new
Because of the pandemic, there may be some roles that didn’t exist before 2020. Non-profits have gotten creative in ways to involve volunteers to help them to realize their mission and vision.

 

Most roles are back!
If you are feeling like you’re not ready for in-person volunteering, even though Covid protections have been pretty much lifted entirely, that’s ok. That’s no reason to not get involved. If you volunteered before, then talk to the Volunteer Coordinator and see if there’s another way for you to help.


The truth about change is that it is difficult. They say there are only two kinds of people – those who hate change and those who are lying. Covid has been the biggest change in recent history, disrupting everything we know.


Be gentle and kind. 
We will move past this. In the meantime, you will still reap the same benefits as always from volunteering and getting involved in your community.