Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

How to Stay Safe While Volunteering During a Pandemic

Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. Staying home all day and away from friends and family can be downright depressing, especially if you get caught up in the bleak news on TV. Finding ways to help others at this time can provide you with a different (and more positive) focus. But how can one help others without spreading the coronavirus further? Here are some ways you and others can volunteer safely.

Volunteering Ideas You Can Do From Home

Some people can’t volunteer outside of the home because they’re at risk for severe complications from COVID-19. If you have a pre-existing medical condition such as an auto-immune disease, or a lung condition like asthma, it’s best to volunteer from home. Even if you treat your asthma, for example, with an inhaler or asthma medication such as Breo, don’t risk your health. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can volunteer from home:

  • Donate money to causes. Food banks and renter’s assistance programs are a good place to start.
  • If you have experience in finance, accounting, or law, volunteer your legal and financial knowledge to help struggling families with their issues.
  • Sew masks to donate to elderly facilities or to healthcare providers in need of face masks.
  • Check in daily with friends and family who are sheltering in place at home.
  • Volunteer to make phone and video calls to elderly people who can’t receive visitors at nursing homes or long-term care facilities at this time.
  • Help older individuals or those who aren’t computer literate order their groceries or purchases online.
  • Go through your home and donate clothes, food, and home items you don’t use to charities.

How to Volunteer Safely Outside Your Home

Although you need to take extra precautions, there are ways to safely volunteer when you’re around others. The virus spreads via person to person contact or from surface to person. You can help your older or high-risk neighbors by doing the groceries on their behalf and delivering the good to their homes. Or if you choose to work by making and serving meals in a soup kitchen, or by providing help in community centers, follow these steps to protect yourself and others:

Use a Mask

The virus is highly contagious. It spreads from person to person in the form of a very fine aerosol from coughing, sneezing, and even breathing or speaking. And even if you feel healthy, you may be carrying the virus with no symptoms. In fact, many people may have already been infected with the virus and had no idea because they had no symptoms at all — or very mild ones. A mask is meant to protect others from catching the coronavirus by limiting your spread of it.

Wash Your Hands — Often

Whether you’re home or volunteering in person, you should wash your hands regularly and frequently. It’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Get into the habit of washing your face when you wash your hands, as well. Most people touch their faces constantly without realizing it. If your hands are dirty, you can become infected from the virus from accidentally scratching your nose, or adjusting your eyeglasses.

To effectively wash your hands, take at least 20 seconds to scrub them with soap and water. Make sure to cover all areas of your hands, including the palms and backs, between each finger, the back of your fingers, and your wrists. As for hand sanitizer, it provides a good back up until you can go and adequately wash your hands, but shouldn’t be a replacement for good old-fashioned soap and water and should contain at least 60% alcohol.

Keep a Safe Distance From Others

Another important factor in protecting yourself and others when volunteering is by maintaining a healthy distance from others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should maintain at least six feet from others and avoid groups. Putting a safe space between yourself and someone else isn’t easy. We’ve been in close proximity to others for years, making it a hard habit to break. And wearing a mask sometimes makes it hard to hear each other from a few feet away or even to breathe. But you should make a conscious effort to maintain your distance for everyone’s protection.

Your Community Needs You

There are measures you can take to safeguard yourself and others while you volunteer. Your community needs you more than ever, so don’t hesitate to step in and help. Although everyone has to socially distance for their safety, you can provide meaningful support to those who need it most in other ways.

By taking a few measures to protect yourself, you can reduce the spread of the virus. Securing yourself and your home has taken on a whole new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic. You’re protecting yourself from an invisible intruder that’s causing worldwide damage. The threat is real, but it’s manageable by taking extra care. The one positive lesson we can walk away with from coronavirus is how interconnected we all are — and how we can create a powerful impact in the lives of others.

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Integrated Family Community Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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IFCS’ Tax ID # 84-0579740