A slow return to “normal life” is happening in many places, but across the globe, older individuals are still struggling from many months of isolation and to remain independent in their homes. The good news? Thousands of volunteers worldwide are once again coming together on the annual United Way Day of Action (June 21) to connect with and support the vulnerable in our communities.
United Way the Netherlands, for example, is leading a Day of Action initiative that pairs young, trained, refugee volunteers with elderly people to help them learn how to use tablets to stay connected to family, friends, and the world – a critical step in healthy, independent living. Because meal preparation also is essential for seniors to live independently, United Way Mumbai (India) volunteers will conduct virtual sessions on nutrition and cooking for seniors living alone, with each senior receiving a kit of essentials such as rice, dal, oil, salt, and sugar. Along the same lines, United Way of Forsyth County (NC) is organizing older volunteers on Day of Action to assemble and deliver 1,400 care packages containing critical home good and personal care supplies to senior residents living independently in low-income communities in Winston-Salem.
United Way also focuses on education, financial stability, and health – the building blocks for a good quality of life – for people of all ages. To help make sure children get off on the right foot to a good education, on Day of Action volunteers with United Way of Northeast Michigan will put the finishing touches on Alpena’s first Born Learning Trail. And to ensure that young students have access to age-appropriate books at home, United Way of Northern New Jersey volunteers are creating Summer Literacy Kits for financially struggling families.
Drives are also a great way to engage volunteers to meet basic needs. In Grand Island, Nebraska, Heartland United Way is organizing a children’s sock drive this month. United Way Montcalm - Ionia Counties (MI) will have volunteers size, sort, and deliver 1,400 pairs of shoes to local partners for distribution and is joining United Ways across Michigan and the Kellogg Company for “Summer Stock Up,” a food drive to replenish pantries and feed families throughout the season. And because heat-related illnesses are a threat to low-income and other vulnerable populations, especially during summer months, United Way of El Paso County (TX) is collecting electric fans and organizing volunteers to distribute them on Day of Action.
Last year, United Way’s annual Day of Action focused on virtual volunteering, in order to protect volunteers and the people they served from COVID-19. What a difference a year makes! It is heartening to know that volunteers across the globe are coming together – literally and figuratively – to help people in need. On Day of Action and throughout the year, United Way volunteers are ready to lend a hand, tackle tough challenges, and advance the common good.