Maintaining Community Service While Social Distancing

“Social distancing does not mean social isolation. We’re all in this together, so be a helper,” said Youth Service of America.  

As a school united under our passion and responsibility to uphold Serviam, it has been difficult to participate in community service due to the restrictions of COVID- 19. Ms. Merani, the service coordinator at Ursuline, gave advice on how to give back to the community during the coronavirus.

She emphasized that non- profits have been severely impacted without access to hands- on volunteers. “Stopping in-person volunteering has really impacted food pantries, animal services, and elderly homes. Hopefully, students are able to serve virtually for those most effected,” said Ms. Merani.

Service comes in many forms– in- person volunteering is not the only option. There are many fun service projects that can be completed at home.

 For example, one can send letters to a local elderly home to give comfort and support during this time of uncertainty. Another example is making tie blankets and sending them to a homeless shelter. Advocating for your passions- such as posting about mental health awareness or spreading cheer on social media- are virtual forms of service. Though they may seem small, these simple acts of socially distanced service remain essential to how we can positively impact our community.  

One act of service that has been especially impacted is tutoring. Because Ursuline students tutor many children, those who cannot receive help, due to the restrictions of the Coronavirus, struggle in school without the tutoring. Tutoring sessions before and after school have hardly been available in person, but online tutoring programs offer a solution. “Many students are getting technology from their school systems to help with online learning, but there are many ways to tutor students online! Check out United to Learn and their virtual tutoring program! […] Also, BookNook has a great tutoring program that many local high school students participate in,” said Ms. Merani.

Our Ursuline community strives to maintain Serviam as a priority and a value we hold close to our hearts, now, more than ever, we need to continue to live out the same commitment to serve.

“If the girls set up live virtual meetings with tutoring students or visiting with the elderly, they can really find joy in their visits. Also, sending letters to the elderly or those in need can bring you personal joy, especially when you receive a follow-back letter!” said Ms. Merani. Despite the lack of personal connection when face- to- face interaction is not available; one can find peace and fulfillment in knowing one made an effort to reach out and helped someone else in need.

COVID- 19 has forced Ursuline to change the requirements for service hours. “We require 5 hours of service for each grade this fall by December 9th at noon, but we encourage everyone to do more for our community!” said Ms. Merani. Completing more service than the recommended is always appreciated- not just to beat the minimum, but to receive a sense of joy and spirit.  

In addition to in- person community service, the coronavirus has affected non- profit donations. “The first two months of 2020 started out strong, but, in March alone, we saw an 11% decline in donations, which was almost certainly a reflection of the impact of COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Boris, chair of the Growth in Giving Steering Committee.

“If the trend continues for the rest of 2020, nonprofits will lose more than $25 billion,” said AFP Global.

By donating to a local non-profit such as a food pantry or animal shelter, each organization will benefit from your contribution, especially with the recent decline in donations.

If one is looking for service opportunities, there are plenty of resources available to find online or through Ursuline to reach out to those in need. “You can find volunteer opportunities in the campus ministry channel on each class’ team every month!” said Ms. Merani.

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