VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: JENNA & INGRID
Q. What motivated you to sign up as a CERV volunteer?
Ingrid: I’m a PAWS volunteer of 20 years. Every dog walked, holiday stocking delivered, vet office visited and kitty fostered brings immense joy. By profession, I’m a conference planner. Our worldwide public health crisis has temporarily stymied my industry. This means I have more time. Knowing our communities have older, vulnerable and disabled individuals who might find this time more challenging than most, my partner and I reached out to PAWS. My partner is also a longtime PAWS vol. We learned Shanti and PAWS were working on a program to meet emergency needs during the pandemic. We’re healthy and able and were oh-so happy to sign up to help.
Q. Has volunteering through CERV helped you feel more connected with the community? If so, how?
Jenna: That’s a great question. Too often, I think we get caught up in our own personal and work worlds which might not reflect the greater population.
Doing a simple task like grocery shopping has changed in recent weeks. There may be 20 people lined up outside a grocery store; there might be 50. For us to stand in line in cold, blustery rains or on a hot day is no big deal. But it also gives us an appreciation of what our older and ill people have to deal with.
Ingrid: As we look down the queue, we’re reminded that we’re all connected. This pandemic definitely brings it home. We’re all in this together, as a community, and we need to look after each other.
Q. How has your experience working with Shanti staff been?
Both: Fantastic! Shanti relays clients’ needs clearly, and we always know we can circle back with any questions. Just the fact they put together the CERV program with the City and County of San Francisco in such a short time reflects their passion for and commitment to their clients.
Q. Do you recommend the CERV program to others, both those looking to help out and those looking for an extra hand?
Both: Absolutely. If you’re healthy, able (have a vehicle* and the time), and are vigilant about observing social distancing regulations (for their safety and yours), do it! It’s not a stranger you’re helping, it’s someone’s mom. It’s their grandfather. It’s your brother. It’s someone’s best friend. All are individuals whose circumstances might prevent them from accessing emergency provisions. It may be food, toiletries, pet food, medications.
And if you’re on the other end and need assistance, by all means reach out. Shanti Project and Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) have done it right for decades, when they operated independently as community partners. Now they’re a combined force, and clients benefit from the best of the best. They truly understand the needs of the communities they serve, and they vet their volunteers.
Ingrid: These are anxious and fearful times for many people worldwide. We’re proud to be longtime volunteers and are passionate about doing what we can to make someone’s day a little less frightening and perhaps even a bit easier.
*Update: Lyft has generously offered ride sharing vouchers for CERV volunteers.