The Cost of Covid-19: Volunteerism drops, creating a huge problem for area nonprofits


Covid-19 forces volunteerism numbers to drop, leaving area services, like laundry for the homeless, falling short on fulfilling the need.

As much of the country tries to get back up and running during the pandemic, some local non-profit organizations are having a tough time getting back on their feet.

“God provides, right, and God gives us the strength – we’ve been running a marathon but you can only run a marathon for so long,” said Sister Teresa Sullivan, the director of Daybreak.

Some local non-profit organizations like Daybreak, a Macon homeless shelter, are struggling. But not because of what COVID-19 has taken away, rather who it has taken.

“We went down by like 80% of our volunteers. We had to cut down our hours and we had to cut down, try to cut down our services so that we could provide the most essential.”

“We’ve not maintained a strong contact with a number of the volunteers at this point in time,” said Jacob Ferro, the executive director of Loaves and Fishes ministry.

Loaves and Fishes, another Macon non-profit helping those in need, also has cut back on some services. For example, the organization helps homeless people track down their birth records so that they can get a government issued ID – something that is needed for jobs, medicine or forms of financial assistance from the state.

“These volunteers were sitting with people and so we lost a little bit of that because we don’t have the resources to have it more than just half a day on Monday and half a day on Thursday. So there’s some that are falling though the cracks maybe a little bit,” said Ferro.

With shelter in place mandates and CDC guidelines prompting many people to stay home, both organizations are becoming desperate for assistance.

“You can’t hire everybody, you need to have some volunteers. You have to, I mean, it’s impossible. We would love to give people jobs, they said give that guy a job – give that guy a job – we can’t do it. Pretty soon we wont have enough money to operate for any length of time so volunteers are critical,” said Ferro.

So critical, in fact, that if more people aren’t able to step in, those in the community who need the most help will continue to go without it until the country gets COVID-19 under control.

“If we didn’t offer it, they had to do without. In the early days, our staff was filling in for the volunteer stations, which we did, but that means we had less time to do what we’re supposed to do. Volunteers are the heart of service at daybreak,” said Sullivan.

Loaves and Fishes is not yet able to allow volunteers back in the building but Daybreak has implemented new protocols like temperature checks, masks and hand-washing, to help get more volunteers back in the building. If you think you can help, contact the group through the hyperlinks embedded in this story.

You can also find the full report on 13WMAZ.