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How to volunteer, even under a "safer at home" order

There are remote and virtual volunteer opportunities, and your help is needed now, more than ever.
Credit: Volunteer Odyssey

Getting bored sitting around with nothing to do? Looking to fill your day with meaning? A group called Volunteer Odyssey has ways to keep you safe and stay busy.

The website is essentially a one stop shop for volunteering. It connects people who want to volunteer with opportunities based on their skills, needs, or location.

Volunteer Odyssey's director says there are ways to volunteer during the COVID-19 outbreak, despite being stuck in your home.

Because of the "safer at home" declaration, the group is only promoting in-person volunteer opportunities if they are considered part of essential services, such as helping pack food boxes.

Sarah Petschonek is the director of Volunteer Odyssey. She says there are remote and virtual ways to donate your time during this crisis.

Remote opportunities include things like dropping off meals for seniors, making sack lunches and dropping them off for the homeless at the Hospitality Hub, or fostering an animal for Memphis Animal Services or the Humane Society.

Petschonek says there are also virtual ways you can volunteer. Virtual opportunities include things like making wellness calls on seniors or making and sending letters of support for hospital and other front-line workers.

Petschonek says volunteer opportunities are being updated on its website and social media constantly because the situation is fluid.

“Memphis needs volunteers as much as ever, and volunteers are so critical to how we take care of our neighbors in our communities. So, if you've been thinking about how you can help and give back, please feel free to reach out to Volunteer Odyssey through our social media or through our Facebook page, or contact a non-profit that you care about and ask how you can help.," said Petschonek.

Petschonek added one of the easiest things you can do is donate blood because supplies are nationwide and reaching critical levels.

Volunteer Odyssey is a one-stop shop for meaningful volunteer opportunities in Memphis. With our platform, we connect volunteers to their ideal volunteer experiences in the Memphis area based on their interests, skills, or neighborhood. We also provide the software that our nonprofit partners use to recruit volunteers and track their impact.

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Coronavirus in Context: 

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80-percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.