The COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the smallest towns and largest cities around the world. We are finding ourselves faced with the simple truth that we are all in this together, both in good times and in bad. We are united in our isolation, our hope, and our desire to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the communities where we live and work. While daily life during this pandemic is anything but smooth sailing, a single act of compassion, a good deed, or an effort to help our neighbors can have an outstanding ripple effect.
Socially Distant but Civically Engaged
In the wake of stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, our typical means of human connection have changed, but the issues and challenges plaguing our communities have not slowed. Hard work, generosity, and the spirit of voluntarism are needed more than ever as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances and the uncharted waters ahead.
It is 2020 National Volunteer Week and The Junior League is celebrating the impact of volunteer service and its innate ability to build stronger communities. Altruism, social change and civic leadership are at the heart of what we stand for, and those principles are reflected in the brave efforts of volunteers every day.
Finding Inspiration in Uncertain Times
As we move forward with cautious optimism, we are uplifted by the brave and selfless work of volunteers whose civic-minded efforts are making real change both locally and globally. At The Junior League, our work has not stopped, and with adjustments made for the safety of our Members, our Leagues are setting an inspiring example of the monumental importance of voluntarism in times of unrest. This National Volunteer Week, we shine a well-deserved spotlight on the efforts made by our Leagues to support their communities’ basic needs, provide valuable community resources and partnerships, promote education and literacy, and boost Member and community morale.
If and when our readers contribute their own time to local volunteering opportunities, we encourage them to take all precautions to protect themselves, and whenever possible, to take part in virtual fundraisers and other contact-free community support events.
Leagues are Working to Meet Their Communities’ Basic Needs
During the pandemic, communities are struggling to access essential resources, including food, personal protective equipment, feminine hygiene products, and diapers. Leagues are working hard to support their communities with efforts to collect and distribute these important and lifesaving basic necessities. In this challenging time, the need for food donations will continue, and Leagues in every corner of the world are working to help feed their communities with food drives, food donation initiatives, fresh vegetable distribution, pre-packed meals, and more. Now more than ever, scarcity extends beyond food. Access to crucial supplies like feminine hygiene products and diapers is limited, and Leagues are helping to meet this often overlooked need with diaper drives and virtual fundraisers to purchase feminine hygiene products for women and girls in need.
During COVID-19, the demand for personal protective equipment is widespread and urgent. The CDC recommends cloth face coverings for those who must leave their homes for work or crucial errands, but healthcare and grocery store workers are often left unprotected. Multiple Leagues are helping to provide their communities with masks by spearheading creative initiatives that prioritize safety. These efforts are just one way in which our Members identify a critical need and work together to provide for their communities. This is, always has been, and always will be, The Junior League way.
Leagues are Connecting Communities with Valuable Resources
Community partnerships have the power to generate resources, provide aid, and give local organizations opportunities to remain connected to the communities they serve. From virtual fundraising activities and blood drives to census participation phone banks, League Members employ their creativity and civic leadership skills in a multifaceted approach to help maintain community wellbeing.
Leagues are Promoting Education and Literacy
In light of school closure, families are in desperate need of alternative resources to support their children’s education from home. Leagues are working in new and innovative ways to provide and promote literacy and educational resources. Families with access to electronic devices and internet in their homes can now take advantage of a collection of virtual storytime videos and sessions, some of which were created in collaboration with universities and libraries. League Members are working to encourage at-home education by distributing materials that aid in homeschooling efforts, and tips for working and learning at home. And, in an effort to enable education at all ages, are sharing online workshops and bookstore partnerships that offer live online events showcasing authors and their books. Junior Leagues know that learning and literacy are a lifelong priority, even during a pandemic.
Leagues are Focusing on the Importance of Member Morale
The hard work of Leagues simply wouldn’t be possible without the many minds and hearts who commit their time and energy to bettering their communities. Without the strength, effort and unwavering commitment to voluntarism, the inspiring and impactful work done by Junior League Members would come to a halt. For that reason, the morale of League Members is a high priority, especially as the world is rocked by COVID-19. Leagues are taking important measures to build and maintain Member morale, including virtual social hours, fun and interactive social media campaigns, and even virtual recipe sharing efforts! Using social media as a virtual gathering place is giving Leagues the opportunity to get creative in how they interact. As the pandemic limits typical activities, Leagues are finding clever workarounds like online Zumba classes, virtual happy hours, and special hashtags encouraging Members to share tips for staying healthy and happy at home. It is both heartening and inspiring to know that Leagues understand that caring for their Members is as important as caring for their communities.
The impact of volunteer work can never truly be summarized or quantified but deserves to be celebrated and shared! During this National Volunteer Week – but also in each and every week – we honor our Members and everyone whose voluntarism is unstoppable and continues to promote progress, even in the most challenging circumstances.