Elaine Pura is the executive director of Habitat for Humanity, Southeastern B.C. Photo: Submitted

Elaine Pura is the executive director of Habitat for Humanity, Southeastern B.C. Photo: Submitted

COVID-19’s impact on volunteerism at Castlegar’s ReStore and other charities

It is difficult to find volunteers

Submitted by Elaine Pura, Executive Director Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC

As the world slowly returns to some sense of normality, non-profit organizations are now looking to pick-up the pieces of a post-COVID world — a world that has left a lot of us struggling to regain both lost revenue and volunteers.

A February 2021 report published by CharityVillage and The Portage Group suggests that the pandemic has had a significant negative impact on volunteerism across the charitable and non-profit sector. A majority (64 per cent) of surveyed organizations indicated that they have experienced a decrease in the number of volunteers since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The pandemic has had an equally adverse impact on the ability of Canadian charities and non-profits to recruit and retain volunteers. A majority (63 per cent to 65 per cent, respectively) indicated it has become more difficult to recruit and retain volunteers since the onset of COVID-19.

Habitat For Humanity Southeast BC is one of those organizations faced with regaining lost volunteer resources forced away because of the pandemic. The responsibility now lies with us to provide volunteers with a safe, clean environment from which they can do their jobs. Giving them the level of comfort they deserve in return for their gift of time.

We rely on those special volunteers to help us do our work in so many ways. Our Habitat ReStore is a good example of the positive impact volunteers have in our community. Habitat ReStores rely on the donation and subsequent resale of gently used furniture, home décor, appliances and more – with all money raised locally going back into building affordable Habitat for Humanity homes in our area.

Our volunteers provide support to our ReStores in both Castlegar and Grand Forks – helping to do any number of important jobs like customer service and sales through to donations processing and repair.

Volunteers across the region provide us with many thousands of dollars worth of time in support of our work. This is donated time that we could not pay for and is critical in helping us to achieve our mission.

But now, we are finding it difficult to fill the need we have for volunteers to help us run our ReStores and generate the money we need to build affordable housing across our region. We also make sure we provide a safe volunteer environment.

It is a need that exists with other worthwhile organizations too.

Please take some time to look around your community to see where you can help! Most organizations would welcome the offer of your time!

To reach out and offer your time to Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC, contact either of our ReStores in Castlegar or Grand Forks or email infor@hfhsebc.org.