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Non-profits struggle to recruit volunteers during the health pandemic

The coronavirus puts food banks and other organizations in tough situations. During this pandemic, recruiting volunteers has become difficult, while many families are in need.

“So throughout COVID, RIFA has definitely seen a decrease in volunteers,” said Gracie Sloan, the Marketing and Events Coordinator at RIFA.

As COVID cases continue to surge across the nation and even in madison county, people are reluctant to get out of the house to serve others.

“And that’s kind of to be expected. The health and safety of our volunteers is our top priority, so we understand people wanted to stay home and take care of themselves, but it does put us in a difficult position,” said Sloan.

RIFA, like many non-profits who assist communities, relies heavily on the help from volunteers. Sloan says over the past year, their volunteer hours decreased significantly.

“Last year, we totaled over 25,000 hours of volunteers, and at the end of October, we were just a little over 12,000. So this year, we have less than half of what we had last year.”

The ongoing pandemic steadily increases the unemployment rate putting families in financial straits. RIFA is still doing everything it can to serve the community.

“We see a growing need throughout our Jackson community. We still need volunteers here every day helping pack snack backpacks, helping pack senior staple boxes, helping sort through food,” said Sloan.

Some of RIFA's employees even put in extra hours to ensure things get done.

“It is all hands on deck around here, and you will see some of us sorting through things. Right now, it’s a big push to get Christmas things in the thrift store. And so you’ll see some of our staff members upstairs sorting through items when there are not volunteers here.”

All volunteers at RIFA are required to wear masks and to social distance.

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