FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2020
Contact: Betsy Shelton, Volunteer Iowa
AmeriCorps Iowa Members Respond during COVID-19 Crisis
Des Moines, Iowa – Volunteer Iowa, and the AmeriCorps Iowa programs it oversees, has been deeply engaged in the COVID-19 response effort since Iowa had its first positive cases in March. With over 38% of Iowa volunteers being 55+ and the most common volunteer area for older volunteers being food collection and distribution, we focused our response on filling gaps left in those areas experiencing increased need. By reassigning and deploying AmeriCorps members, and coordinating with younger volunteer groups like FFA and 4H, we are working with organizations statewide to innovate ways volunteers can assist safely while the need is greatest.
Between March 16 and May 31, response efforts have been aided by AmeriCorps Iowa:
- 221 members reassigned*
- 8,723 service hours accumulated
- 14 AmeriCorps Iowa programs reporting response activities
- 36 different service locations responded
- Main area of support has been food response (food banks, food pantries, local school food grab & go locations)
- Other areas of support are:
- Making facemasks to donate to health care facilities
- Legal Advice Hotline support
- Blood Donation
- Volunteer Management support
- Foodbank Deployment:
- 19 AmeriCorps members from Conservation Corps of Iowa AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity of Iowa AmeriCorps Mobile Response Team deployed to River Bend Foodbank and Northeast Iowa Foodbank
- 2,071 hours served
- 272,149 pounds of food collected or distributed
- Main activity has been sorting and boxing food for distribution for backpack programs, mobile food pantries, etc.
*Number includes 30 AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) members based in Vinton returning to serve at the Northeast Iowa Foodbank
Volunteer Iowa is working with an additional 68 community organizations across the state to place VISTA and AmeriCorps state members in over 90 NEW full-time COVID-19 recovery related positions this summer and beyond, to support ongoing needs as a result of the impact of COVID-19. For a list of summer AmeriCorps host sites and VISTA positions and to apply, visit https://volunteeriowa.org/covid-19-recovery-effortrecruitment.
“AmeriCorps members have been versatile and quick to adapt to the sudden change in their service assignments,” said Volunteer Iowa Executive Director Adam Lounsbury. “They did not hesitate to step into new roles, which was crucial to Iowa’s COVID-19 response. AmeriCorps members filled the gap during a time volunteers were staying home to protect their health. Their flexibility and commitment to serving others ensured Iowans across the state continued to have access to food and other community assistance.
RSVP volunteers, who are 55+, stepped up and focused their volunteer efforts on safe ways to contribute to the COVID-19 response.
RSVP COVID-19 response related activities:
- Community gardening and produce gleaning from farmers market producers, which provides free produce to area food pantries
- Writing pen pal letters to nursing home residents instead of students
- Delivering mobile meals with no contact delivery/drop off at door for Meals on Wheels across the state
- Sewing masks and gowns for organizations and hospitals across the state
- County Emergency Management Call Center coverage or remote hotline work
Additionally, over 165 COVID-19 specific volunteer needs across Iowa were posted and promoted via our Get Connected portal. We have actively recruited to fill those needs and provided information and guidance to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) to help organizations utilize volunteers safely. All activities have come through missions with the state emergency operations center and/or our work with the Governor’s Feeding Iowans Task Force.
Volunteer Iowa has also worked with nonprofit organizations across the state to encourage them to develop virtual volunteer opportunities and have hosted trainings on utilizing virtual volunteers. Finally, we want to acknowledge the work of the thousands of volunteers who continue to mentor virtually and are providing essential support to young people who have lost other supports when schools closed.
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About Volunteer Iowa
Volunteer Iowa and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals
with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information is available at volunteeriowa.org.