Volunteer Jerry Van Slageren did some gardening this spring for the Langley Seniors Resource Centre before it closed to the public to prevent COVID-19 spread. (Joti Grewal photo)

Volunteer Jerry Van Slageren did some gardening this spring for the Langley Seniors Resource Centre before it closed to the public to prevent COVID-19 spread. (Joti Grewal photo)

Langley non-profits in midst of a volunteer ‘crisis’ as a result of COVID-19

Volunteers Bureau president says seniors centre, food bank, and shelters in need of help

  • Apr. 15, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Langley Volunteers Bureau (LVB) president Karen Long is witness to a considerable drop in volunteerism that has impacted non-profits grappling to do good during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With events cancelled and staff cutbacks at many of the non-profit organizations,” Long said, non-profits “are in crisis mode.

They are been forced to utilize staff “they are fortunate enough to retain to provide whatever services they can.”

Essential services amid the viral outbreak are known to include women’s shelters, food banks, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and animal shelters.

These services are being offered – as much as possible – with social distancing.

READ MORE: Volunteers wanted to shop for seniors during the virus outbreak

Crisis counselling is being done over the phone, video chats are now being used for communication between volunteers – all in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease.

But providing essential services is not always possible at a physical distance.

As the virus has confined at-risk people – including seniors and those with underlying health conditions – to their homes to be safe, the demand for volunteers to help them has surged significantly, Long explained.

As such, Langley Seniors Resource Centre is seeking volunteers to assist with answering phone calls, grocery shopping for seniors, and delivering meals to their homes.

The resource centre, located at 20605 51B Ave., is receiving referrals from B.C.’s emergency COVID-19 line (2-1-1), which is being used province-wide to match seniors with volunteers willing to help them.

Those who are interested in the centre helping field calls can call the resource centre at 604-530-3020.

The community is truly working together, Long said, noting that new volunteer applications are still coming in daily to the Langley Volunteers Bureau.

Organizations working in crisis mode often require a criminal records check before volunteering, she said.

The bureau has access to online applications through the Province of B.C., which can be made available by contacting the non-profit at 604-418-9507 or info@langleyvolunteers.ca.

RELATED: Langley seniors brace for COVID-19 outbreak

Another non-profit in need of volunteers during the pandemic is The Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope in Langley.

The Gateway of Hope serves Langley’s homeless population as the only official emergency shelter, providing meals and other essential services including hygiene and health care to those who need them.

People that are willing to help can contact Rachel at 604-514-7375 to volunteer.

Langley’s food banks are too looking for people to help packing and replenishing their donations bins during the crisis.

To do so, those ready to help can contact 604-533-0671 or 604-542-4357.

What will volunteering in Langley look like after the worst of COVID-19?

“We will need to use a wait-and-see approach,” Long explained.

“Because we don’t know when the coronavirus outbreak will slow. The situation changes rapidly.”

With such ambiguity, Long suggests the best way to help out is to stay in touch with the organization you are passionate about.

“That way, once things do settle down you’ll be ready to help with their volunteer needs.”

Volunteers will be essential to the rebuilding of many Langley service organizations once the pandemic is over, Long said.

“Your help will be needed more than ever.”

Aldergrove Star