Volunteering to Ease the Burden, COVID style

– By Mia Crosthwaite, Corpus Christi House Volunteer Coordinator

I walked a new volunteer around the other day and realized how different volunteering is today than in pre-COVID days. One major shift is that volunteers have greater interaction with guests and have built meaningful relationships. There really is no volunteer position that doesn’t put people in regular interaction with guests, even while maintaining good social distancing and requiring masks. Our guests notice it and the atmosphere of Corpus feels communal, reminding us that we are all in this together.

Maintaining safety continues to be a priority. We enforce mask wearing and social distancing and we offer volunteers KN-95 masks. We’ve now had three confirmed COVID cases walk into Corpus, but none got passed on. One of the cases was contact traced by Central District Health and after questioning us on our procedures, the tracer said that our procedures are good and no quarantine would be necessary. We’ve passed the COVID test three times now. We intend to pass it every time.

For many months, our low volunteer numbers made life precarious at Corpus, every day wondering if we’d have enough people to open. In March when the lockdown came, we went from 80+ volunteers to 6. Today we have 30 volunteers, most of whom are new. We continue to be a predominately volunteer run organization, which affects our atmosphere and keeps us focused on our mission.

With the opening of the Warming Shelter, we’ll be welcoming new volunteers there on Saturdays and Sundays.

Our three volunteer positions at Corpus Christi House site:

  • Front Door — stationed just inside front door, enforcing masks, taking temperatures, spacing out people entering.
  • Food/Clothing — keep coffee/water filled, put out donated food, receiving breakfast food, and helping with clothing for guests.
  • Mail — stationed in StepUp, stamps mail in, sort mails, distributes to guests during open hours (12- 2pm) and then updates database after close.