Alexandria, VA – “The more we come together, the better it is,” stated Marion Brunken, executive director of Volunteer Alexandria, in a Zoom meeting with the Zebra and Jennifer Ayer, executive director of ALIVE! “If we see the gap, we can fill it.”
The gap in this case was the sudden and urgent need for volunteers as COVID hit residents of Alexandria. The demand for groceries and resources from non-profits such as ALIVE! meant that volunteer recruitment had to be done fast. This is when the collaboration between Volunteer Alexandria and ALIVE! became stronger.
“Collaborating with Volunteer Alexandria helps expand non-profit’s network to reach and recruit volunteers,” stated Ayers. “ALIVE! has been doing emergency response as pandemic food relief. Pre-COVID, we provided 30,000 pounds of food and now we’re up to 127,000 pounds of food. We need more volunteers and that means thinking about keeping our volunteer workforce safe and healthy.”
With a grant from the city as part of the CARE act, ALIVE! was able to fund for volunteer management through Volunteer Alexandria. Acting as consultants, Volunteer Alexandria is able to provide insight into ways to create pandemic guidelines to implement, ways to check in with volunteers, and add shifts to be more efficient, keep volunteer groups small and safe.
“The work is more physical than before,” Ayers explained. “We’re now having to pre-bag all groceries due to COVID. If we can get volunteers in for two hour shifts, we can get more people working but in smaller groups and keep focusing on our mission.”
“We don’t want to put anyone at risk,” both Ayers and Brunken emphasized.
“We appreciate that funds are being given towards volunteer recruitment,” stated Brunken. “It’s like being recognized for all the work we do to help the people of the community.”