Volunteering in a pre-covid world used to be relatively easy. You would listen to that altruistic voice in your head and heart, you’d research an organization that aligned with your personal values, and after a few more bells and whistles, you’d be happily on your way to becoming a philanthropic agent of goodness. And after a long and wonderful day of making the world a better place, you’d wipe your sweaty brow with the back of your hand, and then get ready to do it again the following week.
However, these days are different. Most volunteer programs are operating under a different set of rules and standards for the purposes of keeping everyone safe. They may be temporarily closed or be operating with a skeletal staff in order to keep their important work going. Additionally, there is another factor in this new normal that can pose a challenge when it comes to volunteering: our families! Gone are the days when we could have someone watch kids while we do some volunteer work. Our family is constantly with us, which, while lovely in theory, can be very challenging in practice.
Thankfully, there’s a very simple solution: volunteer as a family! Sure, there are some new guidelines and tweaks to be made in this new normal of physical distancing. However, it’s still possible to get the “helper’s high” while keeping your family engaged and working together.
This one is easy! Grab some gloves, garbage bags, and perhaps a few pointy sticks, and the entire family can clean up your community. The children can get involved with the decision-making process. Which part of town needs the most help? Which items should be recycled? Why is it important to give back to the community in this way? Perhaps this can be a weekly practice and each family member can take turns being the leader to decide on the operational aspects of this give. It’s so simple, yet effective, and giving back to the Earth is for the benefit of us all.
The furry friends in your neighborhood could use your help too! There is a myriad of reasons why pets need to be helped during this time. As everyone navigates this new normal, pets may be a little bit neglected. As a family, you can offer to walk dogs, feed some fish, and clean some hamster cages for the people in your area. You can reach out via community social media groups and negotiate socially responsible ways to help care for pets in your community.
Similar to their pets, members of your community may need help taking care of their gardens and lawns. Maybe they’re busy with some unforeseen challenges, they could have mobility restrictions, or if they’re anything like me, they just don’t want to do it. That’s where you and your family can come in to help! Giving someone some peace of mind by helping take care of their home is so valuable in these topsy-turvy days.
Does someone in the family have a background in fitness? Or dance? Or just has a really loud voice? Physical activity and endorphins (happy hormones) are wonderful gifts to give your neighbors. And physical distancing can be easily adhered to in a public park. The kids can get involved in so many ways: creating and posting flyers, inviting people through social media groups, or choosing inspirational music to move to. They can even lead certain parts of exercise or dance activity. Have you even seen a toddler move around freely in a park? Talk about happy hormones!
Online connections have become so integral to our daily lives, and this can be easily utilized for the act of volunteering. Your family can host a meditation class on Zoom, or some kind of crafting class on IGTV or live stream on Facebook or What’s App. The great part is that as you and your family are giving together, other families are bonding. Your act of volunteering is giving others the chance to spend some quality time.
Food donations and drives are usually prevalent at this time of year. However, there may be a set of new restrictions that could prevent people from participating in them. These new rules may be slightly cumbersome so your neighbors may not have the energy to take part. This is where your family can come in! Neighborhood donation drives are fairly easy to organize, and again, your family can work together to complete the operational tasks in a safe manner. This is a give that can really build momentum and help people who may be in need, especially at this time of year. Visit Charity Navigator for a list of charities you can help, organized by country.
Giving your time and energy as a volunteer doesn’t have to be complicated. The beauty of volunteering as a family is that it sets a familial culture that can last for years to come. Picture this: a few years from now, you’re all at a family gathering and reminiscing about the time you all began to volunteer as a group. The simple act of giving to your community has snowballed into a lifetime of happy memories, and cherished (and hopefully hilarious!) stories that have ben passed on through the generations. Maybe you’ll back and think to yourselves, “Y’know… 2020 wasn’t all bad after all”.
Has your family been volunteering as a group during these challenging times? Let us know what you’ve done or what you’ve tried. Share your successes and challenges on our impact map so we inspire one another to give. Sign up for your 365give membership and start sharing your giving stores!