—WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The pandemic has had lots of folks scaling back their time and now, as we navigate a “new normal,” the need remains and in some cases, more than ever.
Stuart Carter is glad to be back to work — it’s not paid work, but it’s hard work. The 20-year veteran of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity is back at it after taking a break because of the COVID pandemic.
“There were a lot of people who worked last fall, because we were masking and trying to maintain the distance,” said Carter, “I was nervous about that and didn’t do it.”
Many non-profits have seen that lull — COVID keeping people home — even big agencies like Cape Fear Habitat.
With a record year ahead of them, where they expect to double or triple their builds, they say they need more volunteers like Carter during the week to keep projects moving.
“It takes about three months to build one, total,” said Carter.
Annie Anthony, director of Cape Fear Volunteer Center, is so passionate about the need for volunteers, she took time from her vacation to help call attention to the situation and encourage people to get back into a pre-COVID routine.
“People are easily distracted,” said Anthony. “Now that extra hour or two they had a week that they used to volunteer with is used for something different. People do seem to be more into self-care kind of things. We have to rattle their cages and get them back out now.”
Don Arabia runs 2Share, a non-profit that gets furniture and supplies to those in need. He says COVID hasn’t had any real impact on his organization because it’s a constant struggle to get volunteers.
“Pre-pandemic we never had enough volunteers,” said Arabia. “[During the] pandemic we never had enough volunteers, post-pandemic, if we’re there, we don’t have enough.”
“I think every organization in town is short,” said Anthony.
Carole Schuler just started volunteering as a meal delivery driver for senior resources and she’s already made her first run.
“The thing that hit me the most is people were so grateful,” said Schuler. “They were just so very grateful and so very friendly and so happy to see you.”
The home delivery program is expanding and is hosting an open call for drivers because some days it has seven or eight routes open needing drivers.
Carter has already stayed home, once for his health. The future still holds a question mark.
“Depending on what happens with this Delta thing,” said Carter. “I love doing this, I love swinging a hammer. It keeps me busy, keeping me from sitting around the house, going nuts.”
Like others, Carter is now realizing the time volunteering is another health benefit that’s helping him as well.
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