People-Power: How two women are helping their city during COVID
WOW, the world is crazyyy right now. Between another COVID upswing, the transition period for the presidency, and just general 2020 chaos, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be back to normal anytime soon. How are you finding the good in this madness? In case you need a little guidance, we will be highlighting some of our volunteers and nonprofit admins to show you the good that has been going on in our communities, even through this madness. Our focus for November is COVID relief, so we’ve interviewed a couple of people who we noticed doing some extra good during this time. Read on to see what keeps them going, and learn what they think we can all do to make the world a little better!
Mandy found out as an adult that her mom struggled financially while raising her. She already had a heart for helping her community, especially kiddos, but learning this led to her passion of helping impoverished families. She volunteers regularly with kids through her church, and feels fulfilled when she’s “learning how to be inclusive and setting kids up for success,” which is why she likes that her church often volunteers with Columbus Public Schools. But during COVID, Mandy felt like she needed to be doing more.
Mandy has seen a growing need in her community that wasn’t there before —and honestly, the nation has too. So when she saw Children’s Hunger Alliance needed help packing food for kids, she went for it. The big groups that normally volunteer and pack food at Children’s Hunger Alliance could no longer show up. She described it as a double-edged sword: “People need food now more than ever, but the normal people can’t help, so that makes meeting the bigger need even harder.”
Mandy knew she wanted to help Columbus during COVID, so she turned to POINT to find a way to get involved. A lot of us probably want to help our community in times of crisis but it can feel overwhelming. So why did Mandy mask up and help? She said she felt both POINT and Children’s Hunger Alliance were taking precautions to keep volunteers safe. And that’s true—nonprofits must comply with state orders and POINT encourages all volunteers to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash their hands often. We even made a quiz to help you know if it’s safe for you to volunteer. (And we need ya! Especially at food banks, where demand has risen by over 400% since March.)
Like many people, fundraising and volunteer opportunities in high school marked the start of Mandy’s volunteer experience. “I would like to say it was my own volition but there were more people that kind of took me along and brought me into that,” she said, going on to reflect that these experiences, “Helped me become willing to help people and think about other people.”
Mandy said she gets inspired by others who work tirelessly for the causes they care about. While volunteering with Children’s Hunger Alliance, she noticed that volunteer coordinators were pulling double duty to meet community needs. (Psst…That’s happening pretty much everywhere. Help ’em out!) Mandy also mentioned Stephanie (Head of Outreach for POINT) and another volunteer she knows as a few specific examples of inspiration. “Seeing how they are able to make such a big difference and care about people in such a respectable way—there’s humility with it,” she said.
When we asked her why she believes it’s important to get involved with her community, Mandy said “Why not?” She pointed out that we cannot assume that some else will be there to meet our city’s needs, and even the small things go a long way. Mandy believes in doing one thing a day for someone other than yourself. She believes fostering a sense of care of others and selflessness is important. Her parting words of wisdom:
“Don’t underestimate those good deeds, because hopefully it grows and doesn’t stop there.”
Barbara was a florist in a past life, but found her true calling at the Hilltop YMCA and has now been doing more good there for 20 years!
The Hilltop Senior Village, or Ville on the Hill, helps adults live successfully in their homes as they age. COVID has spread us apart and disconnected us from one another, but luckily we have tools and technology at our disposal to keep us in touch (and bread baking to keep us sane & fed!). But Zoom fatigue and the stress of isolation are real, and older folks feel this more than most. Barbara said this presents a challenge for the older generation to stay connected. Even if they know how to use these tech tools, they don’t always want to.
So, Barbara has been spending a lot of time on the phone, writing notes and cards, and compiling written resources (for things like Medicare enrollment) for the seniors, since it’s not safe for them to all get together right now to socialize and attend information sessions. Plus, getting a letter that’s not junk makes people’s day (we all know the feeling!). Barbara knows this, and knows how important it is to maintain personal connections with these elders. She says, “It’s really important for me to make elders feel valuable,” referring to the fact that sometimes the older generation can be forgotten. “All of these elders were somebody before they were an elder,” she continued.
Ville on the Hill helps Barbara make meaningful change in people’s lives every day. Something as simple as picking up the phone “Brings so much joy,” and can really make an impact on someone’s mental health. And Barbara has seen this first hand. A phone call may seem like a small thing, but she said, there are “lots of things you can do with just one phone call—that would be amazing for the whole world.”
When it comes to volunteering during COVID, Barbara says, “The need has just amplified,” but she mentioned that POINT has really helped pull people in. She talked about how the way that POINT describes events “Makes it exciting for volunteers and keeps them coming back,” which is SO important for nonprofits, especially now. “Everyone who is in nonprofits right now understands that the needs don’t stop––you just have to figure it out,” she said.
Barbara sees the impact she makes every day, and it keeps her work fulfilling. Her inspiration comes from her family and the interaction she gets with others. “People smiling, that’s important to me,” she said. She gets joy from working with the community, and her advice is for others to figure out what their own passion is, so it won’t feel like work to volunteer.
“Whatever you’re going to do, whatever you’re volunteering for, if it’s a passion for you, then it will bring happiness back to you a hundredfold.”
It makes sense to feel completely overwhelmed by 2020, we’ve collectively lived through A LOT. But Mandy and Barbara took action, and decided to help make a real change. These two women are proof that you don’t have to do it alone, there are so many amazing people to meet when you volunteer!
Helping our communities get over COVID can be simple, we just need to jump in. Without people like Mandy and Barbara, our communities will keep struggling under the pressures of COVID. And truly, the need for volunteers is greater than everrr—we really cannot stress this enough. Take a note from Barbara and Mandy—find a cause you’re passionate about, and don’t underestimate the power of getting involved even in little ways. If we all faced this COVID recovery with the mindset of these women, just think of what it could do for the world.
For all of you looking to do more good in your city right now, volunteering is a great way to find connection, joy, and make a positive impact. Get started by downloading POINT for iOS and Android, then sign up, mask up, and show up for your community. There’s still plenty of good in the world, we just need to find it.
Thankful for you all!
Adrian & the POINT team