As the pandemic continues, nonprofits and service organizations still need volunteers to help carry out their missions more than ever. January 18 is a National Day of Service that celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy and is the only federal holiday encouraging Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. United Way of Central Indiana Senior Director of Communications Jessica Di Santo says nonprofits need a new and creative way to invigorate a volunteer force that looks very different.
In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Di Santo said nonprofits are really feeling the impact of COVID-19.
“A majority are working some of the hardest work they’ve ever had, serving our community who is in desperate need of their basic needs to survive: food, transportation, medical supplies, safe housing,” said Di Santo. “Not only has the need risen so much, but the ability to serve people without a volunteer force as was usual is a really big issue.”
The United Way of Central Indiana has launched a website to create a one-stop shop to connect with nonprofits and find volunteer opportunities. The website was created pre-pandemic in partnership with the Indy Chamber.
“We did it right before the pandemic and it really became more essential at that point because as people wanted to volunteer during the pandemic and still do, they now have a place to go,” she said. “So we’re really proud of this site. We’re really proud that agencies can easily get their opportunities uploaded and people can search them easily and find the right opportunity for them, either virtually or in person.”
Di Santo says in person volunteer opportunities can range from food pantry stocking to kitchen volunteers. Those looking for virtual options can find something like creating activity kits for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“(The website) services anything from agencies of community centers, childcare centers…the geographic span is all across our central Indiana community so you can probably link up to something close to you or you can do something virtually. It’s all right there.”