Global Youth Service Day: Yes, you can still make a difference while staying at home.

by Ali Fergusson, HOBY Intern

Global Youth Service Day #GYSD2020 is right around the corner and even though you are stuck at home, there are so many ways to volunteer. The 32nd annual Global Youth Service Day, which occurs on April 17 through 19, encourages anyone around the world to commit to service within their communities. Each year, over 2,000 youth organizations around the world participate, including HOBY. This year, however, raises even more of a need for volunteerism as people struggle through the disruption of COVID-19. 

So, why volunteer virtually? Just like volunteering in person, virtual volunteering offers a great way to help those in need, especially those who are affected by COVID-19. During a time of isolation, volunteering is an excellent way to bring together a community to work together for the common good. By volunteering from home you are protecting yourself and others by preventing the spread of COVID-19. This year, HOBY is highlighting five organizations that you can volunteer with from the comfort of your home.

Be My Eyes has formed an online community of over 3 million volunteers in over 150 countries assisting over 200,000 blind and low vision people. The organization’s goal is to provide those with low vision or blindness the help they need to complete everyday tasks, big or small. These tasks can range anywhere from checking expiry dates, reading instructions, or distinguishing different colors. You can sign up by downloading the app through the app store. You will then be sent a notification that their assistance has been requested. By accepting, you will be connected through a live video call where you will be asked to assist with the requested task.

Through the Smithsonian Transcription Center, volunteers are given the opportunity to transcribe thousands of archives, from field notes to diaries to photo albums. With over 16,000 volunteers, Smithsonian works to provide the public access to these documents transcribed by volunteers. Volunteers can choose from a wide selection of documents to transcribe. Firstly, a volunteer will complete a transcription which will then be reviewed by a different volunteer. They can either approve it to be sent to the Smithsonian staff team or send it back for more edits. This is an excellent way to volunteer during Global Youth Service day and learn something too! Click here to sign up.

United Nations Volunteers provides numerous volunteer opportunities that aim to fulfill peace and development goals. UN Volunteers has attracted over 12,000 volunteers each year from 187 countries. The online volunteer program offers a selection of different categories such as writing and editing, COVID-19 response, translation, and technology development, which all include projects within. These projects can range in time commitments from only 1 hour per week to 20+ hours per week.

UPchieve is a free, online platform that offers low-income high school students the opportunity to connect with volunteers in an online classroom centered on math tutoring. The platform is available to students 24 hours a day and will alert volunteers via text message when their assistance is requested. The volunteer experience is designed to be flexible. Multiple volunteers are contacted at once in the case that a volunteer is unavailable at that time. In response to COVID-19, UPchieve is expanding the number of students and schools that have access to their resources resulting in an even higher demand for volunteers.

With over 500 volunteers in 16 states, DreamCatchers has been able to fulfill over 200 dreams. DreamCatchers’ mission is to fulfill the dreams of patients who are reaching the end of their lives. These dreams have included trips to sports games, plane and boat rides, and spa days. They have recently launched their Kindness and Compassion Initiative to encourage interaction with senior citizens through virtual programs during COVID-19. To ease the impact that COVID-19 has had on senior citizens’ well-being, volunteers can take part in a virtual pen pal program through video, email, or text. Another option is to create video or physical greeting cards to send to nursing homes, senior living, and assisted living facilities. These programs are designed to promote the interaction between the young and old while bringing joy during a time of stress and loneliness.

If you’re participating in Global Youth Service Day or any volunteer activities, be sure to share your service and tag @HOBY, you might just see yourself featured in our social feeds, and don’t forget to log your service hours!

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