Our Volunteers Always Rise Up to Challenges and Answer The Calls

Our lives all changed in March 2020, and volunteering was not spared. Despite the life altering shutdowns, we at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland (BGCP) adapted and learned in the new world of volunteering. We immediately overhauled our entire member management system into a new one. Thousands of entries, and hundreds of hours were spent by our indispensable virtual volunteers from Umpqua Bank, Nike, Adidas, and Logical Positions. This was no small task and one that will impact the organization and our families for years to come. 

As our virtual volunteers were creating better data management and efficiency, our families had let us know they have an urgent need for foodMany of our youth and families rely on schools and our Clubs for regular meals, and with Clubs temporarily closed, the need was critical. With government approval to provide food distribution services, teams of volunteers showed up week after week to help us distribute over 70,000 meals to our hardest hit communities.  

The importance of this work is never lost on our volunteers. “Any way that we can help people/families in feeding their loved ones, is what is important to us,” said Larry Gibbs, BGCP volunteer who brought his team to help. This was an “avenue to help give back to the community, and I [had] been looking forward to working with the local Boys & Girls Clubs since 2020 started.” Larry’s team was a huge blessing for us as they had experience distributing meals to families across the Portland community. 

Countless community members have stepped up to help feed our communities, and members of the Timbers/Thorns staff played a major role in the delivery of our services. “As restrictions began closing vital community spaces that provide shelter, resources, and food, we saw food distribution as one of the most immediate needs in our community,” said Blair NeelandsSustainability & Outreach Coordinator.  

Services don’t stop at food. We partnered with the Oregon Health Authority in December to deliver free COVID-19 tests and flu vaccines to communities around our Clubs. We are blessed to have volunteers willing to risk their well-being in the middle of the worst spike in cases we have seen to date, to efficiently and safely deliver these services to communities that need it most.  

Again and again, I am reminded that all of us have been deeply affected this year. Our volunteers and staff have all expressed the love for the teams we builtBoth Blair and Larry said that volunteering was “the highlight of [their] week, and a great substitution for “the human interaction that everybody was missing from their daily lives. “The power of togetherness [is something] people underestimate, said Larry. I think we at BGCP feel that power now more than ever. 

It still seems hard to imagine a time when we can all gather again without the health risks fears for ourselves and loved ones. To all who were able to help us this year, THANK YOU. Your sacrifices, compassion, selflessness, and time were invaluable to the successes and impact we have had. Significant amounts have been achieved, but there are still miles to go. The economic and health impact will continue to fall heaviest in the communities we serve, and we will continue to work to fill the gaps and challenges our communities face with an equitable approach. 

Together, we will continue to do whatever it takes to meet our communities’ critical needs, and to serve and build Great Futures for our youth. We may be answering the direct calls from our youth and families, but our work cannot be done without our volunteers answering ours!  May 2021 bring us together again. 

We still have high need for volunteers for our health clinics in December, and we encourage you to reach out to Matthew Yochum if interested (myochum@bgcportland.org).