Cleveland nonprofit looking for hundreds of volunteers after numbers dwindle during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 11:07 AM, Jul 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-05 11:07:53-04

CLEVELAND — Volunteers are critical to any nonprofit organization, but because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic those numbers are dwindling—making it tough for them to provide the services so many rely on. But there’s an effort to find new volunteers to help those organizations rebound.

Greater Cleveland Volunteers is a nonprofit organization that recruits volunteers and matches them with opportunities throughout Cuyahoga County.

Typically, the group has over 2,000 active volunteers helping out throughout Cuyahoga County. However, they said many of their older volunteers who are at high risk for COVID-19 just don’t feel comfortable volunteering right now, so they’re looking for younger, healthy people to step up.

Executive Director Joy Banish said they’re looking for a couple hundred people to help out with several different nonprofits.

“Most of which are providing direct service or helping with the COVID crisis,” Banish said. “Some of those organizations are looking for volunteers to help with bloodmobiles. There's a huge need for blood at this time, a lot of people who normally give blood aren't giving blood right now.”

Other volunteer opportunities include sorting medical supplies, helping out at food banks and pantries and doing indoor and outdoor chores for seniors.

“Most of these positions just have a minimal amount of training. The organizations where the volunteers would be helping would require them to follow their COVID protocols, which would be, of course, social distancing, wearing a mask and sanitizing, washing hands—things like that—temperature taking, before you would start,” Banish said. “But there's really no complicated training, each organization would provide orientation and basic training to the volunteer before they start.”

Banish said they’re concerned that if the pandemic stretches on for a long period of time, many of their longtime volunteers will not be able to return which would put many nonprofits in even more of a crunch.

“Every organization utilizes volunteers in a variety of ways from their board of directors, which are all volunteers, to committee members, people who help plan special events and also volunteers that do what we call direct service. Those are the volunteers that are actually working with the clients and helping provide the services to those that are served,” Banish said.

The group also has some virtual and remote volunteer opportunities available like sewing masks, calling seniors and writing cards and letters for nursing home residents.

Anyone interested in volunteering should visit Greater Cleveland Volunteers' website for a full list of opportunities or call 216-391-9500 ext. 2116.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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