Two important considerations create a dilemma during this pandemic. On the one hand, it is vital that people stay at home to prevent spreading the virus. This is especially important for those who are part of high-risk groups. On the other hand, there are essential services provided by our churches and community organizations that require workers or volunteers so that basic needs are met. In many places, our congregations operate life-sustaining feeding and sheltering ministries or host critically important 12-Step programs. In some places, congregations are partnering with school systems to distribute “grab and go” meals or with the Red Cross to host blood drives. Many churches have parish halls that might serve as locations for urgent community needs.
It is important to reaffirm what was stated in earlier communications regarding the need for those at high risk to stay at home as much as possible:
- Persons age 60 or over
- Anyone with a respiratory condition such as asthma or emphysema
- Anyone with an autoimmune disorder
- Anyone who is undergoing or has recently received chemotherapy
Those who are part of these high risk groups can nevertheless carry out important ministries to reduce isolation by phone and video calls, provide “virtual” support for community programs and support the entire community through fervent prayer.
It is equally important to ask that those not in high risk groups who have been asymptomatic for the past two weeks to consider stepping up to support ministries which provide life-sustaining assistance to others. Shelter ministries, food programs, recovery groups and many others will be without key volunteers for a time, and will rely on help from those who can manifest the concern of the church to keep them going. Fellow parishioners practicing self-quarantine, neighbors in high-risk groups and families of health care workers are among those who will need support and encouragement through phone calls, errands, meals delivered and other ways, enabling them to stay safe in this time. Such ministries embody Christian compassion.
What follows is a list of volunteer opportunities for church and community services. Our hope is to keep this list of opportunities current. Send information to be considered for inclusion to Canon Bill Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 Volunteer Opportunities:
- The American Red Cross has a high need for blood drives. James Thomas, Diocese of Massachusetts' Disaster Response Coordinator, is in communication with the Massachusetts Chapter of the Red Cross about how to partner to match churches with appropriate facilities that might serve as donation sites. As the Red Cross identifies communities where there is high need, he will be in touch with congregations in those areas.
Those who are healthy and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting www.redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767.
- The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts food pantry in Boston needs volunteer support to get food ready for distribution and to deliver food to those in need. Sign up here.
Consider reaching out to other local food banks to see if there is a need for support.
- A list of urgently needed Red Cross volunteer and training opportunities is available here.
- City of Boston Volunteer Opportunities Google Form
- MA Responds online registration system for public health, health care and emergency response volunteers, administered by the MA Depart of Public Health