There is No Time Like the Present to Help Our Neighbors!

What better time than now to lend a helping hand to those in need? National Volunteer Week is approaching (April 19 to April 25) — an opportunity for us to honor volunteers for the powerful impact of their time and energy. Highlighting the individuals and organizations that inspire us to serve, let us appreciate their ongoing efforts to confront society’s challenges, strengthen communities and work together as a force that advances the world. Established in 1974 to recognize the hard work being done across the nation, National Volunteer Week has grown exponentially with thousands of people passionately committed to a plethora of causes and creating change through their compassion. Doing well comes in many forms. In addition to celebrating these altruistic efforts, let’s join them and participate in programs we believe in, progressing movements that we value.

Why Volunteer?

There is a common thread among us; a deep desire to help and support fellow humans, whether they are family, members of our community, or citizens across the globe. By volunteering, you are intensifying efforts towards improving the lives of others. Whether you are offering time and energy or resources and money, you are not just helping to make the world a better place, you are evolving into a better person. When we give back to our community and the people around us, we boost our own happiness, health and well-being.
 
For many of us, the current situation feels uncertain and, in some ways, terrifying. But, in spite of this fear, we are moved to ask, “How can I help?” Here are some safe ways we can support others. We are, after all, in this together!
 
1. Check on your neighbors: Call or text the people in your neighborhood, especially elderly neighbors, to make sure they’re doing okay and ask if there is anything that they need. Offer to pick it up for them and leave it outside their front door so that they can receive it without any direct contact. Another way to help would be to let them know you care — chat from a distance or place signs in your windows to offer a positive message and a bit of reassurance. Maintain person-to-person connection in safe and creative ways. Remind those around you that they are not alone.
 
2. Waste not, want not: For many of us, our pantries, freezers, and fridges are now stocked with necessities. But as grocery store shelves continue to empty, we can’t keep counting on the abundance that we are used to, and it’s important to use what we have. Cut down on food waste with proper storage techniques, waiting to wash produce until you’re ready to use it, freezing anything that you don’t expect to eat in the near future, making a vegetable stock with scraps, and EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS! Let’s make an effort to ensure that there is plenty of food for everyone.
3. Give blood: We are seeing a decrease in those eligible and willing to donate blood and an increase in the demand. This pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to supply of blood due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives. Vital to public health, if this is something you’ve thought about, now would be the opportune time to give.
 
4. Make a donation: Many nonprofits are working around the clock to develop new procedures,implement important programs and provide necessary services. If you have the resources, consider making a donation to your favorite organization. Your dollars will make a big difference.
 
5. Appreciate: Recognize those who are out there on the front lines. When our routines return to normal, we’re going to have a whole lot of people to thank. Grocery store clerks, domestic workers, nurses and doctors, police officers and firefighters, delivery people, teachers who taught our kids virtually, and the list goes on. We may not be able to do much right now, but consider how you might show your appreciation to even one of these people. Call for the delivery of a few pizzas to the local police department as a small token of your gratitude, showing the officers how much you care and helping your local pizzeria too. Or put a box of goodies next to your front door, thanking delivery people and encouraging them to help themselves. Order delivery from restaurants your love and help support one of the hardest hit industries — while enjoying your favorite takeout! Do remember, if any of these gestures involve the exchange of physical money or goods, make sure that everything is safe and clean.
 
6. Take care of yourself: Self-care is very important during these times, and making safe and smart choices is of utmost importance. So for some, doing your part may mean taking care of yourself. And that’s okay!
Celebrate the power of volunteers as they take on today’s challenges. There is an old Chinese saying that goes:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody”.