Athens Help With COVID, a platform that organizes volunteer opportunities for Athens locals to help nonprofit organizations facing hardships from COVID-19, launched this past May. Since then, the platform has partnered with local nonprofits and organizations to recruit volunteers with a variety of skill sets.
Some of the responsibilities of the volunteers range from programming and research to mask making, with the opportunity to work remotely. The online platform is designed to streamline volunteer opportunities so the local government and nonprofits can recruit volunteers quickly and efficiently, according to an email from Camden Rogers, a University of Georgia graduate involved with the project.
Rogers found a call to action for providing Athens students and community members with the opportunity to “make good use of their free time” spent during the pandemic. Rogers was inspired by a similar platform created at Yale University and decided to translate that for Athens.
“Athens Help With COVID is essentially an attempt to mobilize students like me who found themselves with an impromptu gap year [due to the coronavirus],” Rogers said. “It connects them to local organizations, many of which have been crushed by the pandemic.”
Athens Help With COVID provides benefits to students by allowing them to network with organizations such as Athens Mutual Aid Network and receive valuable experience in public sectors, Sofi Rice, communications lead for the platform, said.
“One of my favorite parts of this platform is the opportunity to get to meet and know new people,” Rice said. “We’ve made a lot of connections from the Yale platform and are continuing to learn from people we may have never crossed paths with.”
Rasik Winfield, a Yale studentgraduate and Athens resident, found it useful to connect local Athens nonprofits to volunteer opportunities similar to New Haven Help With COVID. Winfield started the platform by getting in touch with Athens nonprofits in need of volunteers and connecting Rogers with the task of creating the website platform.
Organizations in need of assistance are able to make a “one-click stop” to post their volunteer position and a summary of the benefits they provide, Rogers said.
“We want to make sure that even those who don’t have the strongest ties or experience with volunteering in Athens can easily change that,” Rogers said. “This platform makes it possible to mobilize the potentially thousands of volunteers to bring a fresh volunteer base to the community.”
Athens Help With COVID’s volunteer plans for the fall are up for interpretation as their main challenge at the moment is finding volunteers while students are not currently in Athens, Rice said. While the summer typically leaves fewer student volunteers for the community, the recent pandemic has dropped the potential number of volunteers more than anticipated.
Still, the guidelines for the volunteers this fall will revolve around social distancing and safety while providing benefits to the community, Rice said.
“A lot of the volunteer positions are remote, being either administrative or offered online,” Rice said. “The ones that are done in person, such as no-contact delivery, are still done with social distancing.”