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Volunteer Week 2021

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N at i o N a l N at i o N a l V o l u N t e e r V o l u N t e e r W e e k W e e k A Special Santa Cruz Sentinel Advertorial Supplement April 18, 2021 Every day YOU inspire us. THANK YOU for your unyielding compassion for your neighbors. Standing six feet apart but still connected, we are forging new paths, using our best ingenuity to creatively solve problems, and helping our community build greater resilience. Together, we are tackling the most urgent issues of the day– helping to combat social isolation, vaccinate our community, and feed our neighbors. In partnership, we are building a better tomorrow. www.scvolunteercenter.org As we celebrate Nation- al Volunteer Week, we want to give a resounding THANK YOU to every volunteer who has helped to sustain our community and our organization over the last year. Santa Cruz County has weathered so much and at every turn, volunteers have been there to help us shift and expand services– From emergency response to sustaining the critical needs of vulnera- ble community members, thousands of local vol- unteers have given their time. At the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County helping others connect to their community is our number one priority. We know that when we bring people together in vol- unteer action, we build a stronger, caring, and safer place to live. Of all the astonishing things we've gone through together this past year, what inspired us most is how many people made room to help others, de- spite their own challeng- es. While our world was politically fractured, and contagious, and on fire – so many of our neighbors chose to work together to restore the common good. This wasn't easy! In the last year finding creative ways to safely activate community members has been vital to ensuring that all of our neighbors can still thrive. While we can't celebrate Volunteer Week with parties and events, we felt it was important to share some of the thousands of stories of how your neighbors, and maybe you – stepped up. Within our programs, over 2,000 people helped with fire response last summer, hundreds of vol- unteers helped to sustain vulnerable families over the holiday with more than $100,000 in gifts and donations, 70,000 pounds of groceries have been distributed to our mental health participants in the last year, 5,201 masks have been donated and 7,000 handmade cards have been gifted to seniors in assisted living facilities. Most recently 340 volunteers have contributed 1,800 volun- teer hours to the largest national volunteer mo- bilization in our history as we fight the pandemic through vaccine clinic support. We know that the pandemic has hampered people's ability to meet their daily food needs, make personal connec- tions, and access health and community resourc- es. Fortunately, volun- teers have stepped up to close the gap to these life sustaining resources. This support has been particularly important for local seniors who have struggled with navigat- ing interactions online throughout the past year. Volunteers have played a critical role in bridging the digital divide for seniors through pro- grams like the Volunteer Center Grocery Shopper Program and Stay Con- Restoring the Common Good Through Volunteer Action in 2021 By The Volunteer Center nected. Through the Grocery Shopper Program trained volunteers are matched with seniors who can't visit a grocery store because of great risk to their health. Volunteers are recruited to take grocery orders, purchase groceries on behalf of the senior, and deliver the groceries to their doorstep using social dis- tancing practices. Over the last year, 272 vol- unteers have stepped up to support this program and are delivering up to 300 bags of groceries to seniors each week. Seniors participating in the program have stated, "The grocery program is saving my life and my sanity. I couldn't survive without it." One senior who has maintained an ongo- ing relationship with a volunteer for the past 40 weeks expressed her gratitude for her weekly food delivery volunteer by stating, "I call her my food angel." Through the Stay Connected Program, seniors are matched with a friendly volunteer for regular phone check-ins to help seniors navigate the resources that will be most helpful to them. This could include learning about grocery delivery, falls prevention classes, vaccine information, or how to in- crease social connections. What we love most about each of these programs is how the connections made benefit both the participant and the volunteer. Some of our volunteers, as former social workers or teachers, love that they are able to use their professional skills in a new context and other volunteers have discovered that giving their time not only benefits the partici- pant but is helping them overcome their own sense of isolation. These volunteer connec- tions are at the very heart of our mission. Nothing heals division and trans- forms a community like working together. It is how we build a civic framework and move our community forward even in the worst of times. We invite all communi- ty members to lend their hand to this movement for good. Together, we can sustain these large-scale projects that build commu- nity strength, vitality and connection. LEND A HAND STAY CONNECTED: Serve as a friendly voice, build meaningful relation- ships, and be a resource for local seniors. Register for a free online orientation on Monday or Wednesday from 4-5 PM to learn more. https://scvolunteercenter. org/programs/stay-con- nected/ GROCERY SHOPPER PROGRAM: Interested volunteers can learn more and register at: https:// scvolunteercenter.org/ programs/grocery-shop- per-program/ VACCINE CLINIC VOLUNTEERS: Register to help with the community member check-in process at mass vaccine clinics. https://scvolunteercenter. org/events-2/vaccine-clin- ic-volunteers/ LEARN MORE: Visit www.scvolunteercenter.org or call 831-427-5070.

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