Volunteering during a pandemic

Volunteers are not only amazing for nonprofits – they’re essential, and Genesis is proof of this. Because of the dedication of our volunteers, our doors have remained open and our lights have stayed on for more than 35 years, allowing us to provide safety, shelter and support to victims of domestic violence – even during the coronavirus pandemic.

People always want to help, so one of our top priorities when the coronavirus hit was identifying opportunities to engage both new and longtime volunteers. Because all in-person volunteer opportunities were immediately suspended, we pivoted to find ways to engage our volunteers. Even in the midst of a pandemic, our clients still need to eat three meals a day, so meal coordination was one of the first volunteer opportunities to be addressed. Volunteers immediately pivoted from on-site projects to preparing meals at home or ordering delivery. A meal calendar was designed for lunch and dinners seven days a week, and because of everyone’s willingness to jump in and help, we have been able to continue to provide nutritious meals prepared with love. This system has been such a success that volunteers want to continue this practice moving forward.

As volunteers continued to ask, “What more can we do?” we pivoted again by asking all volunteers to organize donation drives to provide needed items for clients: disposable plates and flatware, paper products, masks, disinfectants, gloves and thermometers – everything needed to keep our clients and staff safe. (For a list of our currently-needed items, click here.) There was an amazing response; corporations, individuals and even young children responded to help keep our families safe and healthy. Old friends and new partners alike teamed up to make sure that we were provided with everything we need during such an uncertain time.

We have learned so much during these challenging times, but our main lesson has been that when we all work together, we can do incredible things. Because of the help from our community, we have been able to remain open to serve women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Unfortunately, reports of domestic violence have risen in the past six months, but because our services are at no cost to clients, we’ve continued providing safe emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling, advocacy, legal services and more.

To see our current volunteer opportunities and ways to get involved from the safety of your own home, visit www.genesisshelter.org/genesis-hub. If you are interested in volunteering, please complete an application and background check online by visiting www.genesisshelter.org/volunteer or contact Lottie Price, volunteer manger, at lprice@genesisshelter.org for more information.

Written by Lottie Price, volunteer manager at Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support.