Racial Divide, Giving Communities, Volunteer Mask-Making During COVID-19
Many people are wondering how they might be able to help community members who are in need during the coronavirus pandemic. While financial contributions are always appreciated by non-profits, including United Way of King County, others prefer a more hands-on approach like volunteering.
However, because of the social distancing policies in place in much of the country, traditional volunteering might not be an option, but there are ways to serve, especially now, during National Volunteer Week.
In this week’s installment of United Way’s COVID-19 livestream updates, Archana Verma, United Way’s associate director of affinity marketing, and Liahann Bannerman, United Way’s director of volunteer engagement, discussed the various ways the community can help.
Bannerman said that, while in-person volunteering is still an option for some, others might consider virtual volunteering or, as she put it, “do it yourself volunteering, the kinds of things you can do at home.”
“The one thing that this [crisis] has highlighted more than anything else is our gaps in our systems. And a lot of those gaps do have racial implications,” Bannerman said. “Think of the digital divide. There are schools that are able to give laptops to everybody, and there are schools that aren’t.”
“The one thing that this crisis has highlighted more than anything else is our gaps in our systems. And a lot of those gaps do have racial implications. Think of the digital divide. There are schools that are able to give laptops to everybody, and there are schools that aren’t.”Liahann Bannerman
Bannerman pointed out that there are non-profit organizations that are trying to get hotspots and other technology for those students and families and others that are offering webinars in languages other than English.
Giving Communities Stepping Up
Verma, who works with the Emerging Leaders 365, Change Makers and Champions groups, emphasized how those groups are already “making a difference” in our communities.
“It’s been amazing to see this overwhelming desire from these groups in wanting to give back,” she said. Verma added that a group of Emerging Leaders has already signed up for virtual volunteering opportunities.
Bannerman said the Lt. Governor’s office will soon unveil an effort to get the entire state involved in a volunteer campaign to make masks for organizations that need them, such as shelters, food banks, nursing homes and other sites. She added that this would be a good way for companies that have volunteer programs to get engaged.
Verma said a group of Emerging Leaders held a virtual get-together on Zoom to make masks.
“They’re just people that are stepping up creatively to be able to meet the needs of our community,” Verma said.
The livestream was sponsored by The Starbucks Foundation. You can view the full discussion on United Way’s YouTube channel.