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Jessica Manner reflects on the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 hitting the United States and how it is more important the ever to volunteer.


This month marks the one year anniversary of the Covid-19 virus breakout in the United States and the reality that this new normal has been here for a full year is unsettling to say the least. For me, and I’m sure most everyone, it has been a year of trials and tribulations, wrought with various levels of anxiety, fear and grief. But in these dark moments there have been pockets of genuine joy, where the best of humanity has shown its true colors. Neighborhood and businesses banded together in the wake of the George Floyd protests, sweeping up the streets, putting together makeshift food pantries and paving a path forward. Many restaurants around the cities now offer free meals to healthcare workers, with other patrons able to “pay it forward.” We may have been dealt a bad hand, but I have faith in our ability to rise from the ashes.

Disasters have been proven to bring out the best in people and communities, contrary to a belief that humanity will descend into “every-man-for-himself” chaos. Humans are a communal species and we have evolved to help one another. This has been highlighted in many ways throughout this past year, but the one area where it has fallen behind is one of the most conventional ways people help others in normal times: volunteering. Due to the pandemic, in-person volunteering has plummeted - and not without good reason. However, charities who rely on volunteers have seen an unprecedented increase in the need for their services, due to the rise in unemployment and subsequent poverty.

Volunteering can be just as beneficial for the one participating as for the people they are assisting. It has been proven to help with feelings of anxiety and depression (which is no doubt affecting the majority of people in the world right now) by providing a sense of purpose and connection. When you’re feeling down, one of the best things you can do is to lift up someone else.

Here in the Twin Cities, one of the best resources for volunteering is HandsOn Twin Cities. They have a platform that connects charities with potential volunteers, and the function to sort by type and skills necessary. You can find their platform by clicking the link here. They even offer some virtual volunteering opportunities for those wanting to limit public interaction during this time.

Formal volunteering aside, I pose to you this question: When was the last time you did something for someone else, with no expectation of reciprocity? This could be something as simple as letting your neighbor borrow a shovel, taking your at-risk in-law’s dog for a walk, bringing baked goods to a quarantined friend, or sending physical letters to extended family members in other states. Spreading joy doesn’t need to be regimented or planned, and a spontaneous act of kindness can be the most effective. I challenge all of us to do something for someone else this week and see how it makes you feel. Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel - be that light yourself.

Written by

Jessica Manner
Resource Sharing Assistant
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