Finding places to give back to the community is easier than ever – if you know where to look.
Nothing changes plans like a global pandemic, right? (Raise your hand if you are over it.) The playing fields have been leveled, so to speak, in every aspect of our lives. As businesses have opened bit by bit after being closed for over a year, I’ve realized, with a heaviness in my heart, our community’s needs didn’t go away. When the pandemic hit, families were still needing assistance with food, clothing, and shelter. If anything, those needs increased. We needed to adapt if we were going to keep helping our local community.
Our corporate volunteer program, Blue Margin Community Works (BMCW), pays employees to volunteer 2 hours each month in whatever capacity they choose. Before COVID-19, we volunteered with Homeward Alliance, The Food Bank for Larimer County, The Matthews House, Respite Care, CASA Harmony House, Habitat for Humanity, and Realities for Children, just to name a few.
Pre-pandemic BMCW. Above: Helping Realities for Children and their annual Bikes for Tykes program. Below: Volunteering at the Food Bank for Larimer County. Look at all those lovely, mask-less faces. <sigh>
Things were going great. We set new goals for 2020, hoping to have 100% of our employees helping in the community at least once per quarter, until the pandemic changed everything. Rightfully so, Blue Margin’s leadership wanted to keep employee and family safety a priority, so we “temporarily” suspended all BMCW efforts. Temporary turned into indefinite. Until further notice. Our hearts were broken for our community in so many ways. Many of our plans to volunteer were put on hold, suspended, and canceled. It seemed like a dead end.
Hope, as it turns out, prevails.
FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL, REMOTE IS WORKING
One of our employees shared an absolute treasure with me. Turns out, during most of the quarantine, when the whole world was closed, this employee had been volunteering his time, sneakily I might add (I mean humbly because he didn’t brag or tell anyone).
Rather than volunteering locally, he was helping his global community through Catchafire.org. According to their website, “CATCHAFIRE is a community of individuals seeking to support and strengthen the social good sector. We do this by matching professionals who want to donate their time and talent with non-profits who need those skills.” You go on their website, enter your skills, and choose the nonprofit you’d like to help. Virtually. Social distanced. Talk about a match made in a global pandemic heaven. Remote volunteering? Yes please.
This remote volunteering trend began for us in 2020 and is still gaining momentum in 2021. It has caught on with several more employees who are giving their time to assist, coach, train, and help individuals, non-profits, schools, and businesses.
Adapting our VOLUNTEERING Style
Like most things, in-person volunteering looks a lot different now with symptom screenings and mask requirements. I’ll admit, it felt a little weird volunteering with a mask on, but it was so fulfilling. So good, and so needed and appreciated. It was wonderful working alongside fellow volunteers (masked and socially distant) with the same goal: to help our community thrive. The needs haven’t changed at all, but the ways in which we can give back have multiplied into some great options, regardless of your comfort/safety level.
Back to square one with BMCW? Not a chance.
Looking back over 2020, three of our employees helped with trash pickup through the Natural Areas department and two others volunteered to help at the Realities for Children Golf Tournament – both conveniently outside with social distancing – helping their community and team-building with coworkers. When FoCo Café needed meal delivery drivers, there were some willing Blue Margin volunteers to safely bring food to those in need. One employee made homemade cards that were delivered to the workers at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission.
Masked up and socially distanced help at the Realities for Children Golf Tournament!
I couldn’t be prouder of our Blue Margin team, who not only weathered a pandemic, with all of the unknowns and challenges, but also kept Blue Margin thriving and found creative and meaningful ways to give back to those around them. Not all heroes wear capes, and I’m happy to report we employ a large number of said heroes.
START WHERE YOU ARE
It doesn’t take a giant company or even a corporate volunteer program to make a difference. Whatever your style, just start where you are. Needs abound and there’s no time like the present to begin. Check out your local food banks, homeless shelters, libraries, parks departments, schools, and community gardens and learn about the needs they have. All of those entities have a volunteer page on their websites. You could become a remote volunteer and lean into the global sector, reaching out to national and international organizations. Ask your employer how your company is helping the community.
Start small. Help out someone today. Share a smile. Pay it forward. Be kind. Stand up and speak out for those who need advocates. Meet your neighbors. Send a friend or loved one some flowers. Write (or text) an encouraging note to someone. By adapting your volunteering, your generous efforts will benefit both the local and global nonprofit community, spread awareness, and promote a safer way to make a difference.
Interested in hearing more about our community works program or starting one at your company? Click here to connect with us.