10 Ways to Help Your Community During the COVID-19 Outbreak
As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), it is difficult to stand by and do nothing when others are in need. And, growing frustrated or turning into a couch potato is not helpful to your mental health. So, RPCV Health Crusade assembled this list of different ways for you to be productive and help your community.
While it is important to help your community, it is also important to do it in a safe manner. Please be sure to follow the CDC guidelines to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Just because you feel fine, you could still spread the virus.
If you can’t do what you normally do, then do what you can!
Reach Out to Each Other (and For Yourself)
Check in virtually with your family and friends around the world. Even a short exchange could brighten the day of someone who is in self-quarantine especially if they live alone. It could also help you as well to have that social connection. We are living in a digital age so physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing.
As RPCVs, we are used to helping others and being social. So don’t forget to also look out for your own physical and mental health during this isolation. For the evacuated PCVs, this could be a good time to gain some closure and say good-bye to the host country families and friends. And, if you want to work through your feelings about the evacuation, consider joining one of our peer support sessions.
According to the American Red Cross, there is a severe shortage in the blood supply. Many organizations have cancelled their scheduled blood drives. But if you are healthy, you can still donate blood. Locate a nearby donation center to donate as an individual.
All blood types are in short supply right now. But, universal donors with O-negative blood type are greatly needed because their red blood cells can be transfused to any patient. And, consider maximizing your donation with a double red cells donation.
Volunteer at Food Banks and Community Kitchens
Many of these community resources utilize volunteers to minimize program costs. Unfortunately, most of these volunteers are retired seniors who are now at a high risk for COVID-19. So now, the supply of volunteers have gone down while the need for these services are going up. Locate a nearby Food Bank or Food Pantry. Just be sure to volunteer safely.
Deliver Groceries and Meals to Vulnerable Neighbors
Since some people are considered to be at a higher risk of infection or difficulty in recovering when infected, they should make every effort to isolate themselves. But, they still need to eat! And, they still need basic supplies.
So, check in on your neighbors to help them with groceries or meals. Leave the food on their doorstop to minimize any direct physical contact. Consider volunteering directly with those neighbors or through organizations like Meals on Wheels that have programs to help food insecure seniors live without the fear of hunger.
Help with Schools’ Food and Donation Programs
Some of the schools have food (and donation) programs so that children who are eligible for free school meals do not go hungry. During this time when children are being home-schooled, they should not lose those free meals. So, many schools are continuing their food programs for parents to come by and pick up. Check in with some nearby schools to see if they need help to distribute food or other items to families in need.
Many organizations need virtual volunteers where you can contribute without your physical presence. There is a virtual volunteer opportunity for almost every interest and skill level. Here are a few:
- Become a trained volunteer for the Crisis Text Line. This free 24/7 national crisis-intervention counseling service assists exclusively through SMS text.
- Scan or edit books for Book Share and help them provide thousands of books to people with reading disabilities.
- Help translate texts into different languages for NGOs and nonprofits through Translators Without Borders.
- Provide sighted assistance through Be My Eyes for blind or low-vision people all over the world.
Become a Medical Volunteer
If you have a medical background (and are healthy), consider being a medical volunteer. The Medical Reserve Corps is a network of local volunteer groups that work in local communities with public health and response/recovery.
Renew Your Medical License to Practice
For those in the medical field who have since retired, consider renewing your license to help with the spiking medical need. Currently, some medical personnel are working around the clock without all the needed equipment. When people are exhausted, they become more vulnerable to contracting diseases as well as making mistakes. So now is the time to jump back in. And, some states are offering expedited medical licenses applications.
Locate and Donate Medical Equipment
If you can locate (or make) equipment that could be helpful, now is the time to get those creative ideas flowing. Can you find or make effective masks for your family and neighbors so that the limited number of medical-grade masks can be utilized for medical personnel and first responders?
And since this community can be resourceful, you may have contacts that have not been tapped. So if you have or know of any medical-grade supplies or equipment to donate, please contact FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center.
Volunteer with RPCV Health Crusade
RPCV Health Crusade is making considerable strides with identifying ways to help the Peace Corps community take charge of their health needs. And, we can really use some help. After all, we are a part of your Peace Corps community so this is another way to help your community.
RPCV Health Crusade is entirely run by volunteer RPCVs. And, there are many ways you can help. Fill out our volunteer form to let us know more about your skills and interest. We have many ways for you to contribute!