Alberta volunteering site links spike in traffic to COVID-19 pandemic
Some organizations seek virtual volunteers to help serve youth and seniors
Alberta's chief medical officer of health has encouraged healthy residents to volunteer their time.
"Now, more than ever, kindness matters," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at Tuesday's news conference, adding that guidelines for community organizations and non-profits will be released in the coming days.
It seems Albertans are heeding her advice, or at least thinking about it.
VolunteerConnector, a website that matches volunteers with open opportunities in Alberta, has seen increased traffic during the pandemic. Seven thousand people visited the site on Tuesday.
It is by helping one another that we will overcome <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19AB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19AB</a>.<br><br>I would like to call on Albertans to share the acts of kindness that they have experienced in their community during this difficult time.<br><br>Please join me in using <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AlbertaCares?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AlbertaCares</a> to spread some light.—@CMOH_Alberta
"That speaks volumes about the people in this province," Katie Dodd, the site's volunteer and community engagement manager, told CBC's Radio Active on Wednesday.
As of Thursday, the site, which is run by the Volunteer Centre of Calgary charity, featured more than 30 opportunities linked to COVID-19.
Edmonton's Food Bank seeks volunteers to pack hampers and the Calgary Seniors' Resource Society needs people to drop off deliveries to vulnerable seniors.
Many posted positions can be done remotely, such as translating information for families or helping young people with schoolwork over the phone.
"Shovelling your neighbour's sidewalk is a form of volunteering as well," said Ilya Ushakov, who directs programs and volunteerism for the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.
Many charities and non-profit organizations are in the process of moving their programs online and learning how to screen and train new volunteers remotely.
An important part of that process is mitigating risk, said Graeme Dearden, senior co-ordinator of learning and development at Volunteer Alberta.
"We're seeing a lot of organizations learning from their peers and talking to other members of the non-profit sector to learn about how they're dealing with risk within our organizations," he said.
Dodd said prospective volunteers should also weigh the risks of taking on new roles.
"Make sure that the position can be done while social distancing and staying safe," she said. "And don't do it if it's going to add additional stress to your life."
With files from Adrienne Lamb