Help us plan for the future by taking our survey on health and safety measures, access to technology, and remote volunteering.
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on longer than any of us could have planned for, we - like other Senior Corps programs across the country - face the daunting challenge of how to effectively support our communities while prioritizing the health and safety of our older adult volunteers. Over the past months, we have shared a number of ways to volunteer safely, but overall, options right now are limited. It is a frustrating situation for the many RSVP members who have had to stop volunteering and are desperate for ways to remain active, engaged, and of service to the community.
Last month, we mailed a letter to all enrolled RSVP members asking them to take our COVID-19 Volunteer Survey. This survey assesses:
feelings about returning to volunteer service once "stay at home" safety measures are no longer mandatory;
possible safety precautions RSVP and our partner organizations can take to help volunteers feel more comfortable returning to service outside their homes;
access to, and comfort with using, various electronic devices and video conferencing applications that may enable volunteers to serve remotely
The day when it will be safe for volunteers to safely serve outside their homes remains increasingly uncertain. Thus, it is the third question which is most critical - remote volunteering opportunities are the best options for safe service for older adults, particularly those opportunities utilizing internet-enabled devices and video conferencing applications to engage with clients face-to-face. But in order to justify investing time, energy, and program resources into developing new remote volunteer assignments, we need to know that there are people capable of and interested in these kinds of assignments.
Based on the responses so far from our volunteers, the majority (73%) have access to at least one internet-enabled device at home (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.), but only 52% are comfortable using any kind of video conferencing application (Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc.), and only 22% have expressed interest in any kind of remote volunteering assignments involving video conferencing or other online applications.
The bottom line: we need more data to help us make informed short- and long-term strategic decisions. The responses we've received so far represent only one third of our enrolled RSVP members, and responses from non-members can be equally helpful. If you are an enrolled RSVP member who has not yet completed the survey, or if you are not a member but are interested in weighing in on these questions, we urge you to take the COVID-19 Volunteer Survey. By doing so, you can help us improve our understanding of older adults' attitudes toward volunteering during and after the current reality, and inform our programmatic decisions moving forward.
Note: If you're not an enrolled RSVP member, you can put "N/A" in the text box for "RSVP Volunteer Assignments," or put "not a member." But we'd still love to know about any places you might be currently volunteering!