HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— National Volunteer Week is here, and now more than ever we’re seeing how people are devoting their time and resources to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, National Volunteer Week is observed from April 19-25. According to the White House, "It is opportunity to recognize and honor the countless individuals who selflessly invest in the lives of others.”
“Nothing brings a community out of a crisis stronger than those that are looking out for each other, and that’s what the heart of a volunteer is,” says Stephanie Gorham, executive director of Volunteer Hampton Roads.
Volunteer Hampton Roads connects volunteers with non-profit organizations, but right now, many of their volunteers are the ones who need help.
“We’re seeing a rise for volunteers because most of the volunteer population that was normally doing that is in the higher age range— that puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19,” says Gorham.
As National Volunteer Week kicks off around the country, Gorham is encouraging people to think about how they can strengthen their own community.
“Checking on your neighbors - that’s volunteering your time and that is volunteering your care and what you can offer,” she says.
You can also sign up with Volunteer Hampton Roads. They’re looking for people who can help package, prepare and deliver food for groups like Meals on Wheels and Mercy Chefs.
“Nonprofit organizations, they do the critical work in the community. They are the ones that step up when things get really tough,” explained Gorham. “They cannot complete their mission without volunteers. Volunteers are critical to our community being resilient during times of crisis so to us volunteers are heroes.”
If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your home, there are plenty of virtual volunteer opportunities you can do right from your couch.
Volunteer Hampton Roads is looking for “Comfort Callers” to check in on elderly citizens.
“We are asking volunteers to commit to daily calls to a recipient of the Meals on Wheels program just to check in on them just to let them know that we’re still here for them,” says Gorham.
You can also send a "compassion card" to a senior citizen to get them through the lonely days or an electronic encouragement card to a health care professional.
Gorham says there are plenty of mental and physical health benefits that come along with volunteering and says it also helps people expand their own personal network of friends.
“It just brings that happiness to you when you’re giving back to your community. When you’re helping, you can’t help but smile and feel good.”
The need never stops during the COVID-19 crisis, and neither do the unsung heroes who ask for nothing in return.
“People that were helping on March 16 are getting a little tired, so we keep pushing, asking, 'Please if you want to, and if you can, please volunteer.'"
Click here to sign up for volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Hampton Roads.