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Rebuilding a volunteer base impacted by the pandemic, Habitat for Humanity and FeedMore WNY

"There are so many different opportunities that may be the perfect fit for you," Habitat for Humanity Buffalo volunteer coordinator DJ Manou said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity Buffalo have been putting the finishing touches on a home at 38 Barbara Place in recent weeks.

They're the foundation of every Habitat project and for some like Bill Lavigne whose been volunteering for 30 years, it's the camaraderie and being part of building a home from start to finish that keeps him coming back.

"It's just a great opportunity if you have some time to donate," Lavigne said.

No building experience is required so anyone willing to paint or plaster can volunteer and there are almost always opportunities, according to Habitat for Humanity volunteer coordinator DJ Manou.

The only issue, he said, is that ever since the pandemic put a pause on things, rebuilding the volunteer base that had before has proved challenging.

"We want to re-engage with the volunteers who maybe took a step back and are looking to get back into it, or maybe the businesses that used to volunteer with us that may not realize, 'Hey, we can get back and doing these things because we enjoyed it,' " Manou said.

Habitat of Humanity Buffalo has 14 to 16 houses that need to be finished, Manou said, and the fewer volunteers there are, the more time it will take to get them finished and get people moved in.

Not Alone

FeedMore WNY has its own need for volunteers post-pandemic, according to public relations coordinator Catherine Shick, especially with their Meals On Wheels deliveries.

"A lot of our 'Adopt a Route' partners really did have to reexamine their 'Adopt a Route' partnership with us after the pandemic," Shick said.

Where businesses may have helped deliver along a Meals On Wheels route before the pandemic, Shick said with more people working hybrid schedules or remote, it isn't as feasible.

"We do need drivers and servers to help us deliver those nutritious prepared meals to our homebound neighbors in need in Erie and Niagara County," Shick said.

Volunteering to deliver any of the 6,000 Meals On Wheels meals that FeedMore handles in Western New York isn't the only option, however. School groups, companies, and even friend groups can offer their time to pack non-perishable boxes bound for schools or reach out for other opportunities.

"We simply could not continue to feed our Western New York neighbors in need without the help of volunteers," Shick added.

If you are wary about volunteering or are unsure about what to do, Shick and Manou said all it takes is a phone call or email to their respective nonprofits to learn about the options.

"It just might be behind a door you didn't know existed so we want to open those doors. You've just got to reach out and ask us," Manou said.

Information to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Buffalo can be found here.

FeedMore WNY has information about each volunteer opportunity also posted on its website.

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