Volunteering During the Pandemic

Volunteering for APAH looks a lot different to Jyh-Mei now than it did two years ago.

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Jyh-Mei reading to young children at Columbia Hills in 2019.

“I just love working with children,” Jyh-Mei said. So, she began volunteering with APAH two years ago at story hour, a weekly reading program with young children at Columbia Hills. “It’s a lot of fun reading and playing with them,” she said. “I remember one of the toddlers was especially shy and wouldn’t participate much. After three months of volunteering, she came straight to me with a book asking to read together.”

But, when the COVID-19 pandemic required social distancing and safety measures to be implemented in mid-March, APAH’s volunteer needs changed as well. All nonessential resident service programs were put on hold until further notice, but grocery distributions were expanded and required volunteers. Despite these changed circumstances, Jyh-Mei wanted to continue her service to APAH. She currently volunteers for on-site AFAC distributions and door-to-door grocery service, outfitted in gloves and a mask that APAH provides.

Jyh-Mei volunteering at an AFAC food distribution for APAH residents.

“In the beginning, we could communicate with residents passing by to pick up groceries. Now, especially for door-to-door service, we leave groceries at the doorstop and knock because we aren’t supposed to have contact. Still, sometimes when you walk away, you’ll see people opening their door and they’ll say thank you from across the hall.”

Even though she isn’t working with kids anymore, Jyh-Mei enjoys her current volunteer work. “I know it’s important and the residents need it, even if I don’t get to see their faces.”