NVW: How 3 MA Nonprofits are rebuilding volunteering after COVID-19
Happy National Volunteer Week! This week, we're highlighting the impact volunteers have on nonprofits — and the impact nonprofits have on their volunteers. We're kicking it off with a feature on three nonprofit recipients of MSA's COVID-19 Recovery (RRR) Grant. This mini-grant is funding a focus on re-energizing, re-building, and recognizing volunteers at 25 grantee organizations.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Happy National Volunteer Week! This week, we're highlighting the impact volunteers have on nonprofits — and the impact nonprofits have on their volunteers. We're kicking it off with a feature on three nonprofit recipients of MSA's COVID-19 Recovery (RRR) Grant.This mini-grant is funding a focus on re-energizing, re-building, and recognizing volunteers at 25 grantee organizations.
Barnstable Land Trust
Barnstable Land Trust (BLT) is a community-supported nonprofit based in Cape Cod, serving the 7 villages within the town of Barnstable by protecting natural and cultural resources through land stewardship and community engagement. Over the pandemic, BLT witnessed a surge in trails and properties usage, as well as an increased demand for healthy and educational outdoor programming.
"Receiving a grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance was exciting and timely news," Sue Dahling Sullivan, BLT's Director of Communications & Programs, wrote to us. "[The grant] has invigorated the organization 'from the ground up' as staff, board, volunteers, and community collaborators have sprung into action."
With six staff, only two of whom are full-time, Barnstable Land Trust relies heavily on volunteers to protect, support, and maintain thousands of acres of land. Through the COVID-19 RRR grant, BLT is buying much-needed volunteer supplies. "The branded t-shirts and water bottles on order are the perfect reward and recognition items for our hardworking and out-doorsy volunteers," Sue explained. "New safety vests, first aid kits, and backpacks are being eagerly anticipated by volunteer hosts as they hit the trails on BLT’s walk/talk programs. And because BLT is always 'out and about,' the new lightweight folding tables, portable dolly handcart, and branded table coverings will literally lighten the load for volunteers who hand-out our popular new trail maps at community events." BLT also bought new, hybrid-meeting technology and planned two volunteer open houses.
"Thanks to MSA’s COVID RRR grant," Sue wrote, "volunteerism at Barnstable Land Trust is now becoming a force of nature."
DEAF, Inc., is a multi-service, community-based nonprofit designed and run by and for deaf people. Prior to COVID, DEAF, Inc. annually had around 80 volunteers. "Volunteers supported us in various roles from providing coverage for our front desk, being involved with consumer advisory councils, special events, supporting staff during classes, events and workshops, and more," Carol Hilbinger, one of DEAF, Inc.'s program directors wrote to us.
"When COVID-19 restrictions began, our agency shifted from in-person to utilizing various remote technologies," Darian Gamrell, DEAF, Inc.'s Executive Director explained. "This required immediate and significant investment in training to re-establish the face-to-face communication capability that was required for [American Sign Language]... As such, our capacity and ability to utilize volunteers was decimated."
Today, DEAF, Inc. is focusing its COVID-19 RRR grant dollars on rebuilding and formally restructuring their volunteer program, as well as engaging with volunteer recognition. "Our ASL Immersion event was our first test of the new structure, [and] we are continuing to work on upgrading," Carol wrote. "Our next event is [focused on] recruiting volunteers." DEAF, Inc. is scaling their volunteer program back up to half its original size through MSA's COVID-19 Recovery Grant — and using the solid foundation built during the grant to engage with even more volunteers in the future.
Berkshire Humane Society
Berkshire Humane Society is a nonprofit, socially-conscious animal shelter — and the only open-admission shelter serving Berkshire County and surrounding areas.
"COVID-19 was devastating for Berkshire Humane Society, as it was for many other nonprofits," Rhonda Cyr, the nonprofit's Community Outreach Coordinator, wrote to us. "We immediately halted our volunteer program due to the unknown. This was a big hit as up to 80% of our work is done by volunteers... It has been a slow process to recruit and train new volunteers."
Today, Berkshire Humane Society is focusing its COVID-19 RRR grant dollars on recognizing current volunteers and recruiting new ones. "Thanks to this amazing grant, we have been able celebrate our phenomenal volunteers," Rhonda explained. "The funds have also been used to promote our volunteer program through a large-scale marketing campaign by creating four billboards that are located throughout our community. A radio public service announcement is currently airing this week, thanking our volunteers. The feedback has been incredibly heartwarming. We are so grateful for this grant and all the good it continues to bring to Berkshire Humane Society."
Map of Grantees
Check out the full map of our COVID-19 RRR grantees here.
Sign up for MSA's Newsletters
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.