On March 13th, a memo was sent to all 284 of Step Up’s staff that began, “Step Up and its leadership take the health and welfare of our employees, volunteers, and the clients and the communities we serve very seriously. We understand the growing concern surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) and that you may have specific questions about how to keep yourself, co-workers and clients safe and healthy. During this time, members will continue to need our support and we expect to continue to provide the exemplary level of support and services we have become known for in our community. In an abundance of caution, Step Up is taking the following immediate steps to curtail the spread of the virus and to keep its staff, members and volunteers as safe and as healthy as possible during this period of unknown impact:” First on that list?
“All volunteer activities at all sites are halted for the next two weeks.”
And thus, Step Up’s Volunteer Program which was starting to hit its stride in its second year under the guidance of Community Engagement Coordinator Carolyn Healy and Volunteer Coordinator Kat Fitzmorris, found itself quickly pivoting from engaging with volunteers in-person at Step Up permanent supportive housing units with classes, meals, workshops and events for residents to a virtual affair–coordinating mask-making and other needs and facilitating their distribution from afar. The agency is now in its 8th week of remote work with no indication of when volunteers at sites will be a possibility again.
Carolyn has also turned her focus to how to best communicate the story of how the agency is responding to the pandemic. She has been collecting stories and photographs from all of Step Up’s service teams for the agency’s intranet on the Office365 platform as well as for the Development Department’s newsletter. The former, boosts morale and encourages team-building and the latter gives all of Step Up’s supporters an inside view into the many ways Step Up staff go above and beyond to respond to the needs of its members – OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!
As you may have noticed by your inbox, Step Up’s monthly newsletter IMPACT! is now weekly update From the Frontlines and since March 20th has featured a different team in the agency and the work they are doing to keep themselves and members safe while continuing to deliver its award-winning supportive services. You can read each week’s edition here or subscribe today! Or you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to get little soundbites from each week in addition to other timely content. Finally, please visit our Volunteer page for the latest activities or fill out the Virtual Volunteer form for your favorite way to volunteer. Or, you can check out each team’s Amazon Wishlist of goods they need by making an in-kind donation.
As Step Up continues to deliver compassionate, member-driven services to individuals who are experiencing mental health conditions and chronic homelessness, we need YOU to continue to engage with us! Thank you for all of your support and remember to wash your hands, wear a mask while social-distancing, and TAKE OF YOURSELF. Together, we can make it through.
For more information on how you can engage with Step Up as a volunteer, please email Carolyn at CHealy@stepuponsecond.org.