During the pandemic, social distancing made virtual volunteering the preferred method of giving back for many. With widespread infection rates and worries about virus spread, giving back from home or through other safe methods was the best choice for many people.
However, as more people are getting vaccinated and overall infection rates are dropping, some may be considering getting back to in-person volunteering. After all, volunteering provides social connection as well as mental and physical health benefits. Plus, it can just be fun. As you make decisions about how to volunteer now, here are four areas to consider.
The first and foremost concern needs to be your safety and that of those around you. Individual risk factors, vaccination status, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and proximity to others all play a role in protecting you and those around you from the COVID-19 virus. If your passion involves children, you may want to consider volunteering FOR children vs. volunteering WITH children at this time. And as you explore new in-person volunteer opportunities, ask questions about:
- The organizational or event safety protocols, including vaccine requirements
- Whether PPE will be provided
- Whether volunteer activities will take place indoors or outdoors
- Provisions for social distancing
Once you have a clear understanding of the measures in place to protect you and others, consider your comfort level. Readiness to re-engage in person is a deeply personal issue based on a variety of factors. Some may be overjoyed at the thought of being out with people again, while others may not be quite ready to gather in groups, even with proper safety protocols. If you’re not ready yet, it’s perfectly fine to look for virtual volunteer opportunities.
You have many choices when it comes to volunteering. Consider the ways you want to give back and what matters to you. For example, you may want to find ways to work with animals or get outdoors. Or you may put your love of history, social justice, or teaching to work.
Remember that the decision you make about volunteering now isn’t forever. If you decide that you’re not quite ready to volunteer in person, you can always pivot to virtual volunteering again. Or your feelings about gathering may change in a few months, and you can make different choices. Your choices are flexible, and you should let your own risk, comfort level, and circumstances be your guide.
As you think about the different ways you want to give back, visit Create the Good’s website for ideas, inspiration, and opportunities.