Making a Difference | Volunteering during the Coronavirus emergency

During this period, it's heart-warming to see how many Woodbridge residents are still interested in volunteering to help their community, be it their library community, their township, their state, or the world. Such activites strengthen our views of the world as a place of positivity, support and congeniality, and help not just those we volunteer to serve but also our own mental health and wellness as well as those we inspire.

Finding volunteer opportunities, however, can sometimes be a challenge--and that's true at any time, let alone now when most local organizations are closed or not taking in-person volunteers. So here are some places you can look for chances to volunteer and make a difference.

NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERING

Middlesex County COVID-19 Volunteer Page

Middlesex County has created a page for people to find out how they can support our county hospitals. Each hospital entry will bring you to their page on supporting the hospital and medical staff, whether through donations or volunteer service. You can also submit interest in volunteering through Middlesex County itself, which has a form that lets you specify your specialties, and get matched for medical and non-medical volunteering for county efforts to combat the many problems this public health emergency presents.

» Middlesex County Volunteering : https://discovermiddlesex.com/volunteer/

Help NJ Now

The Governor's Covid19.nj.gov website for state residents has a section for helping NJ. People who are serious about wanting to help that aren't medical professionals are encouraged to register with Help NJ Now and submit a volunteer application. Help NJ Now is a comprehensive volunteer matching program that asks would-be volunteers to submit to a background check (and be 18 or older), so it is not a casual volunteer opportunity, but it will guarantee that your offer of help goes to the place where it will likely benefit our state the most.

» Help NJ Now : https://helpnjnow.communityos.org/

NJ.com Monthly Volunteer Opportunity List

NJ.com contributor Linda O'Brien updates a list every month with assisting agencies and nonprofit organizations in New Jersey that are seeking volunteers and donations to help combat the Coronavirus and ongoing issues exacerbated by the Coronavirus emergency. Each organization includes a description of the work they do as well as a link and/or phone number for you to get specific information about helping out. The list is separated by county, so it's easy to see who needs help nearby, or to share with others so they can do the same.

» NJ.com (May 2020) : https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/05/how-to-volunteer-and-donate-in-ne...

Jersey Cares Volunteer Opportunity Directory and Calendar

Jersey Cares, a non-profit affiliate of the Points of Light network, "recruits and engages volunteers in rewarding, effective efforts that address community-identified needs ... [providing] individuals, families, corporate employees and community groups with a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that range from tutoring children to painting new murals in schools" (via). Their online volunteer directory and calendar are very extensive, and are filterable by many useful criteria, including location, community served, issue area, and age of volunteer.

» Jersey Cares : https://www.jerseycares.org/
» Jersey Cares Calendar : https://www.jerseycares.org/calendar

VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERING

Masks Now Coalition

The Masks Now Coalition is a network of volunteers across the nation working together to support their communities and others with homesewn masks. They're not just looking for people who can sew, they also need fabric cutters, people who can call organizations to find out their PPE needs, and others. You can also check their website for information and guides on making masks and buying appropriate fabric and mask supplies.

» Masks Now Coalition Website : https://masksnow.org/volunteer
» Jersey Cares Collaboration : https://www.jerseycares.org/opportunity/a0C3l00000g5RbQEAU

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is an app that pairs blind and visually-impared users with volunteers to help them with everyday jobs like reading labels and signs. It's simple and easy to do: just install an app on your smartphone or device, and wait for a notification!

» Be My Eyes : https://www.bemyeyes.com/

Words Alive

Words Alive "was established in 1999 by Leslye Lyons, a social worker and voracious reader. The organization was founded on the belief that if you value reading and understand its fundamental connection to all aspects of your life, then you will be better equipped to thrive as a lifelong learner and productive member of your community."

They have launched several virtual volunteering initiatives so that people who love reading and learning can continue to share that love and help support at-risk children and teens during these trying times.

» Words Alive : https://www.wordsalive.org/virtual-volunteer-opportunities