Since 2008 United Way has celebrated Day of Action, an annual global day of volunteering. It's a powerful and uplifting day of global reach and local action -- when thousands of volunteers in hundreds of communities around the world mobilize to volunteer to build up their community.
Like the rest of the world, United Way has had to adapt during this global pandemic, economic turmoil, and social unrest. Just as much of our work, worship, and play has become virtual, so too has volunteering.
On Day of Action 2020 and every day, United Ways are finding creative ways to support the most vulnerable. As COVID-19 has isolated many seniors more than ever, increasing their risk for physical and mental health challenges, Day of Action volunteers from the U.S. to Spain to India are connecting with seniors by phone and online, providing comfort and information about social services and other essentials.
Matan (United Way Israel) – Investing in the Community, is pairing 60 volunteers with 60 older people for a “silent disco party” where participants use the 2gether app to listen to music together on headphones. United Way of East Central Iowa’s Baby Boomer volunteer team and partners are launching the Hybrid Senior Center on Day of Action, recruiting tech support and class instructors who will provide online classes ranging from Pickle Ball 101 to How to Green Clean Your Home.
United Way of the Coastal Empire (GA) has a month-long project leading up to Day of Action that literally engaged volunteers in planting the seeds for personal economic mobility. After volunteers packed and delivered gardening kits of vegetables and herbs to seniors in early May, youth engaged with them regularly discussing how their plants were doing, sharing recipes to use the produce, and more. The AmeriCorps VISTA planned the project with the goals of educating seniors and youth about gardening, cooking with herbs and vegetables, and the economic and health benefits of growing food and increasing social and emotional engagement between generations.
On the other side of the U.S., the VISTA member serving through Orange County United Way (CA) planned a Day of Action project to reach a different vulnerable population – underemployed, low income individuals. About 20 corporate and community volunteers will conduct one-on-one mock interviews and provide other professional skills education during a 2-hour workshop via Zoom.
While virtual volunteering is the safest way for most to volunteer on Day of Action, volunteers with United Way of Roanoke Valley (VA) will serve seniors right in front of them. For the “Room with a View” project, volunteers will use acrylic paint to decorate 250 windows of nursing and senior facilities from the outside and will interact with residents through the glass as they paint. Other United Ways are engaging volunteers to create home-made greeting cards and assemble care packages, activity kits and health/hygiene kits at home and United Ways will deliver them to seniors and others needing comfort and assistance during these unprecedented times.
While we look forward to the day when volunteers can safely serve side by side, United Way will continue to invest in virtual volunteering and connecting community members to each other, on Day of Action and every other day throughout the year. Your local United Way is ready to help you take action today.