Hello NOVAA peers,
The news of the spread of coronavirus in Oregon has exploded in the past couple of days. How are you communicating with your volunteers?
SMART Reading has many elderly volunteers who are expressing concerns about going into the schools during this outbreak. We are trying to be pro-active with our communication without inducing additional panic in our volunteers. I'm curious what other organizations are experiencing.
This has definitely pointed out that as an organization, we need a communicable disease policy for staff and volunteers to help with a clear plan in the future.
Hi Staci! I'm working on this today and we'll be sending a message to all current volunteers this afternoon. Luckily we've already had messages sent to all staff that we can use as inspiration for our message to volunteers. Once we have that message finalized I'll come back and share it here.
The county has a page on guidance for nonprofits that might also be helpful, though it doesn't mention volunteers specifically: https://multco.us/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-social-service-public-and-nonprofit-agencies
Nonprofit AF posted on Facebook about this recently too and there are over 100 comments to peruse for ideas.
Here's what we sent to volunteers: https://t.e2ma.net/message/n9yfwb/ndq7yxb
Thanks so much for sharing, Liza! This is very helpful info. :)
Very helpful! We are working on messaging now, and it's helpful to see what others are doing. At Audubon, we have other chapters (Seattle) that are further into this outbreak, so we are tracking their actions and messaging. I imagine other local groups are part of a national org that may have some resources.
In the spirit of sharing, this is what we sent to our active volunteers just now:
Dear Portland Audubon Volunteers,
The health and safety of our volunteers and community is our top priority. COVID 19, also called Coronavirus, is an evolving situation, and one that we are following closely. For now, Portland Audubon is continuing our normal operations with increased attention to cleanliness unless guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or county/state agencies make other recommendations. If that happens, we will provide updates as needed to ensure everyone’s safety and follow best practices.
To help us care for one another, we ask our volunteers to follow these guidelines:
If you are sick, please stay home. Before returning to volunteer, please be symptom free for at least 24 hours without the aid of any fever-reducing medication or cough medicine.
Please wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
If you feel vulnerable to exposure or do not feel comfortable reporting to your scheduled volunteer shift, please contact your staff lead to let them know you will not be coming in. Your safety is paramount.
Portland Audubon is taking preventative measures to keep our space and community safe.
We have implemented on-site prevention measures by increasing the frequency and depth of our cleaning and sterilization procedures to multiple times a day.
All staff members are under direction to work from home or use their paid sick leave if they feel unwell.
Our leadership team will continue to actively monitor the recommendations from the CDC and local agencies, and implement best practices accordingly.
Thank you so much. We value you and the time you give to Portland Audubon. Please reach out directly if you have any questions.
Vicky Medley (followed by contact information)
Thanks to everyone who has responded to this message. It looks like we are all pretty much on the same page with communication. This is what SMART Reading is sending out to our volunteer Readers.
We wanted to get in touch with our latest thinking and guidance related to coronavirus. Thank you for everything you’re doing to serve your students during what’s felt like a very strange time -- we appreciate your partnership and support as we all navigate our new normal and the constant stream of facts and information.
We’re continuing to monitor news and follow guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, government leaders and schools about levels of risk and how the virus is spreading in Oregon.
At this point, our recommendation is that programs should continue to be open and serve our students, as long as volunteer absences and any space restrictions allow.We’re committed to re-evaluating and reassessing this decision as the situation evolves and we learn more. In cases where SMART is postponed at a site due to high levels of absences or another reason, you will hear from SMART staff or your Site Coordinator, and we will continue to reassess that postponement as well.
Our volunteers should continue to make their own decisions about whether to attend SMART given their own personal levels of risk and comfort. The CDC advises that older adults who also have underlying health issues such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at greater risk of illness; we urge these individuals to stay home and stay safe. We want everyone to stay safe and healthy!
If you plan to miss SMART due to health concerns, please be sure to notify your Site Coordinator so they can adjust accordingly.
Here's a resource sheet we’ve developed for you with some tips for staying healthy.
Thanks for all you do for Oregon students. Please let us know if we can answer any questions or concerns, and in the meantime, please take good care!
PS -- Here are a couple of helpful resources:
Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 Page
Video from Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen and Oregon State Health Officer and Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger answering questions from Oregonians March 4
Recipe for DIY hand santizer
Thanks to everyone sharing communication examples!
I just saw that Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) put together an article on preparing your volunteer program for COVID-19 that may be useful.
Semi-related question for discussion: Has anyone had any brainwaves on how to potentially mobilize all the youth/families stuck at home as remote volunteers? Our org - primarily providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness - can always use folks making food remotely to deliver to shelters, but I'd love other ideas, especially as panic-buying is making some food items scarce, thereby making food prep a challenging activity for some.
Stay well, everyone!
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. A this point most of our volunteers are home staying safe. Either for their safety or the safety of our participants. However, we have some interns who want to start or finish hours for school requirements. What are your policies about having volunteers/interns onsite at this time?