With the events surrounding COVID-19, stay at home order from Governor Walz and unemployment uncertainties, we have heard a lot about volunteering. Pre-pandemic, the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging (MNRAAA) was part of a coalition in the State of Minnesota to bring changes to assist volunteer drivers (volunteerdrivermn.org) and how these drivers are defined by current state law. This movement has taken a back seat as we come together to combat this virus. Volunteering now takes on a new meaning, has a new look and feels different.
Historically when you think of volunteering, you may think of a church bake sale, making cookies for a cookie walk or sitting at a booth for an organization. Now volunteering takes on a whole new purpose. Organizations throughout Minnesota are looking for volunteers to help at-risk groups, such as older adults to deliver groceries and meals (meals on wheels, frozen meals, shelf-stable meals, etc.), pick up medications or simply provide telephone check-ins on individuals. You can find these organizations through news outlets, social media, non-profits and at www.helpolderadultsmn.org.
Volunteering does not have to occur through an organization; there are things you can do yourself to help your neighbors, friends and family. You can pick up mail, offer to walk a pet if someone does not feel well, check in with people via telephone or prepare meals for someone as well.
There are many ways to volunteer and give back if you find yourself with cabin fever, now may be a time to look at helping!
Jason W. Swanson, HSE