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Central Texas nonprofits need more volunteers in pandemic aftermath

During this National Volunteer Month, numerous organizations have volunteer opportunities virtually or in-person for those who feel comfortable.

AUSTIN, Texas — Nonprofits across Central Texas are asking people to find time to lend a helping hand in celebration of National Volunteer Month.

The pandemic has impacted everyone's lives in some shape or form, including how many people are volunteering their time.

When COVID-19 first hit, Laura Wolf, CEO of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Travis County, said she actually saw volunteerism increase for her organization.  

CASA of Travis County had 27% more new volunteers in 2020 compared to the year before. Wolf believes people had more time and more willingness to make a difference.

However, a year later, she worries people do not have the same mentality. 

"Our suspicion is that people are weary and are waiting to kind of see when we get back to normal and what that means for them, what that looks like for them," Wolf said. "Maybe that is when they will reengage."

In the first three months of 2021, 25% fewer people became CASA volunteers compared to last year. 

The organization currently has enough volunteers for half the children in foster care they serve.

CASA is not the only organization looking for help. Here are a few others:

Austin Partners in Education | Virtual Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring

About: Austin Partners in Education helps students build a strong foundation in middle school math, putting them on track to succeed in high school. Math Classroom Coaches meet with a small group of three to four students once a week during their math class throughout the school year to help increase students’ confidence, understanding and enjoyment of math. Mentors meet with middle or high school student once a week to build relationships and help inspire students to develop new interests, explore career possibilities, and achieve their personal and academic goals.

  • Volunteer registration is currently closed for the 2020-21 school year, but volunteer opportunities for the next school year will be available this August. If you would like to receive a notification when volunteer opportunities open, please send your name and email address to Ashley Yeaman (ayeaman@austinpartners.org) and they will contact you at that time.
  • Visit APIE’s website to learn more about Math Classroom Coaching and Mentoring.

CASA of Travis County | Volunteer Advocates

  • About: CASA volunteers serve as court-appointed advocates for children in the child welfare system. CASA volunteers spend up to 20 hours per month getting to know the child they represent to develop informed recommendations to make to judges about what is in children’s best interest. They are entitled to access information about the child's situation and they spend time getting to know the family and everyone involved with the child.
  • Volunteer advocates come from every walk of life. They range in age from 21 to 81, represent various educational and ethnic backgrounds, and are students, retirees, teachers, firefighters, realtors and many other diverse members of our community. They all share a commitment to improving children's lives, a willingness to learn and an open mind towards life experiences different from their own.
  • Recruitment and training are currently online, and information about COVID-19 protocols is available on the CASA of Travis County website.
  • Learn more or put in your application at www.casatravis.org/volunteer.

Partnerships for Children | The Heart Gallery Outreach Volunteers

  • About: The Heart Gallery is an initiative to raise awareness for the more than 1,000 children in Central Texas waiting for adoption.
  • Volunteers can get involved by leveraging their connections throughout the community to exhibit the gallery in new locations and increase visibility each year, helping these children find their forever homes.
  • The main role of the Heart Gallery Champion is to expand the outreach efforts of The Heart Gallery throughout Central Texas by utilizing their community connections to place Heart Gallery exhibits into new locations and secure as many venues as possible on an annual basis. Through displaying the professionally photographed portraits of The Heart Gallery, Champions and their teams will work to support the efforts of Child Protective Service Adoption Units to find adoptive families for the children waiting here in our community for their forever families.
  • Sign up on the Partnerships for Children website.

Partnerships for Children | Mentors

  • About: One of the most important factors to becoming a successful and autonomous adult is to have at least one supportive adult helping you. Through Partnerships for Children, volunteers can provide support for children in the care of Child Protective Services.
  • Mentors in the YES Mentoring Program must be over 21 years old. Following a background check, they will be required to complete a 2-hour online training, then met with a member of the team and get matched with a youth. Once matched, you are expected to meet with the youth monthly, face-to-face and contact them weekly.
  • Apply to become a mentor on the Partnerships for Children website.

AmeriCorps Central Texas | AmeriCorps Members

  • About: AmeriCorps members serve for up to a year, contributing their skills and experience to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
  • Through AmeriCorps, members get paid to give back to your community. Benefits include an education award that can be used toward college tuition or student loan debt, health insurance, training on new marketable skills, and many other benefits. No experience required.
  • AmeriCorps Central Texas will be hosting virtual career fairs on April 22, May 4, and May 12. Sign up for an upcoming career fair, browse current opportunities, and complete your application at AmeriCorpsCTX.org.

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