By Shannon Moss, Youthlinc Project Manager
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything about our everyday life. Meeting up with a group of friends on a Friday night has changed to a group FaceTime call. Shopping trips have been replaced with mountain drives. Instead of an alarm clock waking us up at the crack of dawn for school or work, we might find ourselves awaking to the natural light pouring into our rooms. Social distancing and remote learning are part of our new vocabulary.
With tight restrictions on face-to-face interaction, we’ve had to find new ways to continue doing the things we love in an effort to keep our communities safe. As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, our Service Year students have been learning how to be flexible and find new ways to serve locally. Many of our students have found service opportunities right in their own homes. With parents working from home, many of our students are helping younger siblings with schoolwork so that parents can continue to work. If parents are needed in a work environment outside the home, students are stepping in to entertain younger siblings while parents are at work. A student on our Nepal 1 team said, “There is so much about the coronavirus that is overwhelming. But focusing on what I can do in my own home makes me feel like I can do something.”
A student on our Peru June team, is incorporating service into her everyday routine. She was looking for ways to serve around her when she realized that her grandparents wouldn’t be able to get out like they did previously. She volunteered to start walking her grandparents’ dog every day, and it brings her family peace of mind that someone is touching base with them each day. A small act of service is impacting the entire family!
Several students are using technology to serve locally. As schools navigate the best way to provide classes online, some Service Year students are offering FaceTime tutoring to help others struggling with online learning platforms. This valuable service helps bridge the gap between what teachers can do online in a classroom setting and the learning needs of students.
With blood drives around the country cancelled, there is nationwide blood shortage and a critical need for blood donations. A student on our Kenya team has been logging local service hours by donating blood. Her service is literally saving lives! You can help by visiting https://www.redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment.
Some of our students have been sewing face masks to help our first responders as traditional personal protective equipment has become harder to find. An alum on our Fiji July team, the daughter of a doctor, learned first hand about the shortage of medical supplies. She has been using her time and skills to help keep her dad and others safe. Additionally, JOANN fabric is donating fabric and all supplies to anyone who is willing to help sew masks for medical personnel. Click here for more information about this program and how you can help!
A student on our Thailand June team was heartbroken that she couldn’t visit her new friends in the assisted living center where she had been volunteering regularly. She decided to start writing cards to residents to remind them they aren’t alone. A small gesture of kindness really can brighten someone’s day.
Other students are sending notes to friends and families or sharing positivity through social media. With so much uncertainty and a constant bombardment of information about COVID-19, Students are learning now more than ever that service isn’t always about the big things. Meaningful service is often done in small ways, and can be done even in quarantine.
As you can see, Youthlinc students are well on their way to becoming lifetime humanitarians! They are learning in the midst of a crisis that there is always a place to help others. Shared humanity, serving where we can, that’s what service is all about.