As our churches carefully begin opening their doors once more with limited capacity, the post-pandemic landscape looks much different than it did a year ago when the coronavirus first hit.
Still, many local parish churches, the Diocese of Orange, and various nonprofit Catholic and community organizations – all of which experienced crippling layoffs during the last year – have acute, persistent needs for in-person, virtual, and telephone volunteers.
Orange County Catholics who want to volunteer are asked to call their pastors to determine local parish needs for donations and virtual or in-person assistance. Virtual and phone efforts may take the form of prayers, solicitations for monetary support, calls to parishioners, or other assistance.
Catholic Workers’ Isaiah House welcomes donations of cash, gift cards for grocery stores, non-perishable food, hygiene items for both men and women, and medicine, cleaning products, and household supplies, says Director Dwight Smith. See details at occatholicworker.org.
Many parishes, including Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, operate food banks and pantries and need in-person volunteers who can pack and load grocery bags. St. Vincent de Paul organizations based in local parishes need cash donations as well as volunteers who can deliver groceries to homebound and underprivileged clients.
At St. Joseph Church in Placentia and St. Norbert Church in Orange, telephone volunteers are calling parishioners both to check in and to provide referrals for services.
Many Diocese of Orange ministries need volunteers who will commit to serving long-term, both virtually and in person.
Dr. Louise Dunn, who directs the New Hope Crisis Counseling Line, always needs volunteers to answer telephone hotline calls and provides one-on-one training year-round. “This is a volunteer opportunity for adult individuals who want to make an ongoing commitment,” says Dr. Dunn.
The hotline, a program of Catholic Charities of Orange County, has provided crisis intervention and suicide prevention since 1968 to people around the world. All of the crisis workers are volunteers who have completed an intensive training program of peer counseling. For more, visit rcbo.org/directory/new-hope-crisis-counseling-hotline/.
Linda Ji, director of the Office for Family Life at the diocesan Pastoral Center, says the Hope & Healing After Abortion companion ministry, like other ministries, has broadened to include virtual or phone meetings during the pandemic, with plans to return to in-person ministry when the pandemic recedes.
Volunteers help with Sunday liturgy and Wednesday evening Bible study at juvenile detention facilities, says Fred LaPuzza, director of the diocese’s Office of Restorative Justice, as well as assisting with liturgy and Bible study at adult detention facilities. Volunteers also delivered goodies and provided caroling during the Christmas holidays. For details, visit rcbo.org/group/restore/.
Volunteermatch.org offers a list of virtual volunteering opportunities in Southern California and beyond. OneOC.org is in urgent need of volunteers to support Orange County and local nonprofit organizations, including Operation Independence and the Emergency Volunteer Center.
Catholic Charities of Orange County (ccoc.org) always needs volunteers, including in-person support, for the Cantlay Center food bank. Mary’s Kitchen in Orange – which offers clothing, food, and respite to the homeless – consistently needs in-person volunteers to serve, support, and assist clients.
In addition, mental health organizations like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, provide counseling, rehabilitation, and other support for those with mental illness and their families and friends. NAMI Orange County, at namioc.org, offers a crisis hotline and invites volunteers.