By Santana Solomon, Career Development Peer, Career and Professional Development Services
Many businesses, hospitals and organizations have ceased or limited their in-person volunteer opportunities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It can be difficult to continue to stay involved in the topics you are passionate about while in quarantine. That being said, you can still be an active, helpful member of your community. You can offer to volunteer to cover childcare needs for neighbors or to check-in (by phone/from a distance) on the elderly. You can also check with organizations at which you have volunteered in the past to see if you can step back into previous roles. During this time, students should be prepared for longer than normal response times.
There are several organizations that allow you to virtually volunteer or contribute to their projects online. Here are a few pre-med and general volunteer opportunities available for you to participate in:
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross provides several virtual volunteer positions to help you remain active in your community while practicing social distancing. The virtual volunteer positions have a variety of options, from administrative support, to fundraising and planning.
Hands On Phoenix
Although Hands On Phoenix has suspended all in-person volunteer opportunities at this time, they are still listing ways for you to get involved locally. There are a number of nonprofits in need of volunteers, especially those distributing food to those in need.
7 Cups is a website that provides online therapy and support to individuals in emotional distress by pairing them with trained listeners to discuss their issues. Trained listeners are volunteers who have undergone active listening training to aid these individuals. Trained listeners may choose which topics they are comfortable discussing and identify which topics they do not feel comfortable discussing or listening to.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a mobile app, for iOS and Android users, that pairs sighted volunteers with blind and low vision people to help them with everyday tasks. You can sign up for the app and volunteer to be video chatted or texted when someone needs sighted help for everyday tasks (e.x. Choosing an outfit, checking an expiration date, etc.).
Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line is a free 24/7 resource and text line for people in crisis within the United States. Volunteer Crisis Counselors respond to people in crisis remotely by answering text messages after being trained in active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning. Crisis Text Line accepts applications on a rolling basis, so you are free to sign up to be trained at any time.
Missing Maps is a collaborative project between multiple Red Cross organizations, Doctors Without Borders, and several other humanitarian organizations to map areas for relief efforts. Many small villages or rural populations around the world are missing from maps that humanitarian organizations are trying to reach to provide relief efforts. Missing Maps trains volunteers on how to map these regions from home.
United Nations Volunteers
United Nations Volunteers provides a multitude of online volunteering projects and positions to sharpen your skills and remain involved. UN Volunteers has opportunities to help with translation, research, writing, outreach, healthcare services and many more to suit your interests.
These opportunities provide you with some methods to kill time during quarantine and also make a difference in the world.
The opportunities list above are simply opportunities to supplement your time at home if you find them to be intriguing. While we promote involvement in professional development activities and experiences, it is of the utmost importance that everyone is remaining safe and healthy during this time.