Her email signature says, “Stay healthy, helpful and calm,” and that is a motto she lives by. During what some are calling the “worst crisis since World War II,” Pepco Business Analyst Nicole F. does what she can to lend a helping hand – virtually. The stay-at-home period may have brought on a surge in baking sourdough bread, but for Nicole, who has been an avid sewer most of her life, it led to something more purposeful. When the women’s group from her church put out the word that they were looking for volunteers to make fabric masks for local front-line workers, she knew how she was going to contribute to her community. “I made close to 50 masks and, as a group, our church made around 300. For me, choosing to sew masks was not a hard choice, I enjoy sewing and this was my way of helping and giving back to my community while staying safely at home.”
Nicole is not alone. Since March, over 2,500 employees across the Exelon family have gotten involved in “virtual” volunteer work. As many businesses remain closed and health officials encourage people to stay at home, most volunteer programs have had to cancel in-person activities and will likely have to do so for the foreseeable future. But it is during such critical times as these when volunteer efforts are most needed.
Andrea K., Director of Corporate Development at Exelon, volunteers with Tutoring Chicago – a non-profit that provides free, one-on-one tutoring to economically disadvantaged students. Andrea was paired with a first grader in the fall of 2019 and they met in-person weekly until COVID-19 hit in March. “As learning transitioned to online, I continued to connect with my student weekly on Zoom. We started our sessions by reading a short story together. We then worked on homework, usually math, and finished our time together playing a game. My student’s favorite game was hangman. We’ve built a great bond and enjoyed our time together so much that we continued our sessions through the summer,” says Andrea.
“Tutoring Chicago is a wonderful organization that has given me a unique opportunity to continue to give back to our community throughout the pandemic. I look forward to my time with my student each week. Not only we help support remote learning, but the organization also provides continuity to our students, which is extremely important to a mentoring relationship.”
Andrea - Director, Corporate Development at Exelon Corporation
While it is unclear when Andrea and her student will be able to meet in-person again, she plans to continue tutoring via Zoom. Programs such as this help support families during the pandemic by providing solutions to those who may be juggling work and also homeschooling their children.
Exelon employees are getting involved in many other virtual volunteer opportunities, including answering hotlines at local hospitals, making wellness check-in calls for seniors, and serving on boards of nonprofit organizations. Some employees are even collecting and donating old smart devices to their local hospital or nursing home for patients to use to see their families virtually where temporary visitor restrictions are in place.
Volunteer opportunities outside the home
In instances where remote volunteering is not possible, Exelon employees have also stepped up to the plate. Some employees continue to serve their local communities by donating blood, assisting at food banks, and picking up prescriptions for seniors. Volunteers are also working to deliver shelf-stable meals to school children who otherwise receive meals from their school. Randy R., Scrum Master at Exelon Business Services Company has been volunteering at his local Salvation Army to deliver meals from Food Bank for the Heartland to kids. Randy says, “I really enjoy getting a chance to directly help families in this time of need. The families all deeply express their gratitude for the help we provide. It is fun to see the kids waving and thanking us for what we are doing.”
Randy also helps provide lunch for the homeless by cooking and distributing Omaha Steak hamburgers and hotdogs once a month.
You can learn more about volunteer programs at Exelon here.