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Sonoma Valley nonprofits desperate for volunteers under 65

Sonoma Valley nonprofits need volunteers to replace those who are 65 and older and are advised to stay at home.

Most of Sonoma Valley’s volunteer force is made up of older people, said Caitlin Cornwall, program director of Sustainable Sonoma, who is organizing an effort to seek out new volunteers. But seniors are being advised to avoid leaving their homes due to the shelter-in-place call. Those 65 and older are considered at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and are safer staying at home, according to health officials.

“There is definitely a pressing need for people,” Cornwall said. “The biggest need at this time is for volunteers to help with food distribution.”

To meet the need, a number of Sonoma Valley organizations joined forces to launch a new website and social media campaign, Sonoma Valley Volunteers. The website went live March 24.

Cornwall hopes people who have never volunteered before take the opportunity during this time of community need.

“There are lot younger people who are out of work and can volunteer,” said Cornwall.

Nonprofit organizations such as Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Haven homeless shelter on First Street West are handing out food, more so than what is typical, and need help doing it, she said. Cornwall expects such organizations to continue to see a rise in food need.

The website’s home page, SonomaValleyVolunteers.org, will act as a hub for the Valley nonprofits. Each nonprofit’s name and logo, along with a general description of their needs, will be displayed. Click on the logo and that will open up a new screen with a calendar and specific volunteer needs for that organization along with any particulars such as Spanish language fluency, age or physical abilities.

The organizations are submitting their own volunteer needs to the website, Cornwall said. In some cases a prospective volunteer may be sent directly to the nonprofit’s webpage, and other times people will be asked to fill out a form, and that information will be sent to the respective organizations.

Cornwall said they are working with Valley organizations to learn their specific needs going forward but, for now, she said the greatest need is to get more volunteers, especially people under the age of 65.

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