Meals on Wheels volunteers with masks and flowers at Wilder

Four Things to Know About Volunteering at Wilder During COVID-19

4/24/20 by Austine Vaughn
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Many volunteer opportunities were temporarily suspended when the coronavirus arrived in Minnesota. With social distancing and a stay-home order, buildings are closed to the public, staff are working from home when possible and some programs moved entirely online. Even with limited access, volunteers are finding ways to support Wilder’s programs and services and strengthen our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, Wilder has new online volunteer opportunities for people in Saint Paul and across the U.S. to contribute to our mission of improving lives. If you are interested in joining us, here are four tips for volunteering during a pandemic:

1. Be open to new and different opportunities.

As programs and services adjust to the pandemic, they create new and different volunteer opportunities. For example, in our supportive housing programs, volunteer translators are updating documents for supportive housing participants who read languages other than English.

At the Center for Aging, v­­­­­olunteers can apply to lead online programming so that participants can enjoy social connections and meaningful activity from iPads and tablets in their homes. “I would like to bring joy to people with my music, especially during these times,” wrote one volunteer applicant for Adult Day Health. Soon, the Center will seek volunteers to create cards and letters to send to participants.

These are just a few of the ways that volunteers and people who care about their community can make a difference at Wilder.

2. Be flexible and adaptable.

Like many organizations, Wilder is making rapid changes so that we can safely and effectively continue our programs and services. Our volunteers’ roles are quickly evolving as well. “It’s a little more rushed and a little more fluid,” a Meals on Wheels volunteer says. “It’s more like, this is what we’re doing today and who knows how we’re going to be rolling tomorrow. But the bottom line is we’re serving people who need it—and that’s always been the case.”

As a volunteer, the work you do may change quickly, but we need your skills, experience and enthusiasm more than ever.

3. If you can’t volunteer right now, we still appreciate you.

Maybe you really enjoy volunteering in person, or online volunteer opportunities aren’t right for you. Know that we appreciate you and your contributions, and we are looking forward to a time when we can be together again. We are maintaining waiting lists for some popular volunteer opportunities, such as Meals on Wheels, which is still operating but temporarily needs fewer volunteers. Let us know if you’d like to be included on a waiting list.

4. Even if you don’t volunteer, you can still make meaningful contributions.

During challenging times, you can still make a difference in your community even if you are unable to volunteer. Donations – whether large or small – are especially appreciated. So are donations of specific items. The Center for Aging is seeking used iPad and tablets so that Adult Day Health participants can use to join virtual programming. The Center is also seeking in-kind donations for activities to give to participants such as markers, colored pencils, adult coloring books, yarn, knitting needles, stickers, puzzles, and word searches.

The spirit of volunteering is, “What can I do to make things better?” During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing this spirit shine through in a challenging time for our participants, staff, volunteers and communities. Thank you for your contributions to keep our neighborhoods and cities strong.

 

The spirit of volunteering is, “What can I do to make things better?” During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing this spirit shine through in a challenging time for our participants, staff, volunteers and communities.

Austine Vaughn, Manager of Volunteer Services

How You Can Help During COVID-19

Volunteer Online

While many in-person volunteer activities are paused during COVID-19, Wilder has new online volunteer activities available. Find out more about volunteering at Wilder, view opportunities and let us know you're interested!

 

Donate to Wilder

Now more than ever, your contribution is critical. Please join us in helping serve our community during this time of need.