Volunteering opportunities available for community during the pandemic
Students applying for jobs, colleges and scholarships often need to find volunteering opportunities for their applications. Volunteering highlights an individual’s time management skills and community involvement, besides being a key way to network within communities. However, with so many programs cancelled over the past year, finding openings is tough.
“We are always accepting applications; we just don’t have any programs going right now,” said Tricia Takahashi, the office manager with the Boys and Girls Club of Umpqua Valley. Many local organizations echo this sentiment.
However, volunteer coordinators still recommend submitting applications. Applicants are often placed on a wait list until programs resume. Still, some organizations are currently taking volunteers.
For example, Roseburg Public Works has many volunteer options, especially with local parks, that comply with social distancing guidelines. Their volunteer coordinator will work with individuals or families to find projects that fit ability and interest. They will work to find a service project close to volunteers’ homes and offer a highly flexible schedule, including weekends.
All ages are encouraged to participate. Volunteers can fill out applications at the Parks and Recreation Department or call to connect with the horticulturist, Tracy Pope at (541) 492-6730.
Wildlife Safari also has volunteer opportunities up to five days a week available that involve caring for animals, educating park visitors, or interning with programs such as animal ambassadors.
The Roseburg VA often accepts volunteer applications as well.
Local, national and even international volunteer opportunities can be found through online resources. VolunteerMatch provides up to date volunteer information. Listings range from tutoring for foster children through Department of Human Services in Roseburg, to blood donor transport for the American Red Cross.
Volunteer.gov connects volunteers with federal service projects. It “lists natural and cultural resource service projects that need volunteers, to contribute to efforts run by the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Forest Service,” according to a blog by Vantage Mobility. “Opportunities range in scale and scope, but the projects offer one-of-a-kind opportunities.”
Be My Eyes is a free international app available to many smart phone users. According to The Guardian, “Be My Eyes, created by Hans Jorgen Wiberg in 2015, pairs volunteers with blind or visually impaired people in need of help with small, everyday tasks. These can range from reading an expiration date on a carton of milk to describing the color of a shirt.”
Volunteers are not required to answer every call. Requests may not come at a convenient time, but there are always other volunteers available to respond.
Whichever outlet is chosen, volunteering has many often overlooked benefits beyond application fulfillment as outlined in a blog by Galaxy Digital: “According to a study by Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering is associated with 27% higher odds of employment. Employers are 82% more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience and 85% more likely to overlook resume flaws when the candidate’s resume includes volunteer experience. Students that enter the workforce with volunteer experience are not only boosting their resumes but are effectively standing-out among other potential (and equally qualified) candidates when filling these open positions available.”
Positive effects on health are another surprising benefit to volunteering. Galaxy Digital also points out, “A 2018 study on volunteerism and health found that participants experienced an 8.5% increase in mental health. The same study found that participants experienced a 9% increase in physical health.”
Depression symptoms show the most improvement based on a Community Service Volunteers UK survey; 48% of participants who volunteer for more than two years said their feelings of depression had been reduced.
A sense of purpose can spring from gaining valuable skills and developing professional as well as social networks. Volunteering also helps people stay physically and mentally active, reduce stress and maybe even live longer as well as quality to an individual’s life, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For more information, visit VolunteerMatch.org to find local volunteer opportunities.
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