Learn more about our recent work in Jones County and how you can get involved by volunteering.
United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) has worked on many initiatives since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Our work has been prominent in the five-county area, especially at the Jones County Volunteer Center (JCVC) in Anamosa. Read on for an update from Amy Keltner, our Jones County Volunteer Center Coordinator.
COVID-19 presented challenges for us this spring. Keeping volunteer engagement flowing was difficult. The VITA program wrapped up early in March, cancelling 25 appointments. The Assisted Transportation program went from 17 active volunteers down to three for two months and saw a heavy decrease in the number of rides being scheduled as many medical facilities were shut down. However, we are having more people request to volunteer and drives to appointments! We were also able to support 10 VITA clients who still needed help to get tax forms completed. And we are currently working with our volunteer pool to slowly filter back in the spots that were left a few months ago. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity, like and follow our Facebook page—we’ll be posting some soon!
Restructuring is a theme. For Day of Caring, we typically engage over 300 volunteers. This year we launched a Virtual Day of Caring Bingo Card, which included micro-volunteer projects and random acts of kindness. The card was even picked up and shared with United Way Worldwide! As we head into the fall months, we hope to be able to engage smaller groups of volunteers around the area to make up for missing spring activities.
One concern we’ve been focusing on this year is preventing “summer slide”, or the loss of learning when school is not in session. Last month, we partnered with Jones County Iowa State Extension & Outreach, Cedar/Jones Early Childhood Iowa, and Every Child Reads Jones County to host a children’s book drive on June 13. This project came together when all school districts in the county noted the need for books for children in their communities. In just three short hours, we collected over 1,000 books and $120 in cash donations! If you weren’t able to join us at the in-person drive, you can still donate to our online drive. We look forward to being able to provide the children in our area access to reading materials in their homes.
We need volunteers now! Currently we need more volunteers in the Senior Health Insurance Information Program. Our current volunteer has decided to retire after 10 years of dedication to the program We are looking at alternative plans for our clients this fall during Open Enrollment Period but are looking for help from new volunteers.
As we face the summer months, I am excited to get back into the JCVC office in Anamosa. I have high hopes for volunteer recruitment in all programs and want to focus efforts on our local youth and promoting silver cord opportunities. I am always happy to help groups of people think through and implement volunteer activities as a staff team builder, social group, or class project! If you know someone or are someone that can help, we’d love it. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions about being a volunteer, or if you’re a nonprofit looking for volunteers! You can also find opportunities on Volunteer Now.
Stay tuned for our next guest blogger, coming next month!