Volunteerism drops for nonprofits amid coronavirus concerns

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Coronavirus concerns are affecting our economy, education and even entire sports seasons, but how is COVID-19 impacting our community's most vulnerable?

"Within the last 48 hours, 11 volunteer groups have canceled at Project Angel Food," said Executive Director Richard Ayoub. "That's a very dramatic shift in volunteerism."

The nonprofit organization has been delivering food to those experiencing serious illness, like heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure, cancer and HIV, for over 30 years in Los Angeles. Eighty-percent of Project Angel Food's kitchen is manned by volunteers which, according to Ayoub, is the equivalent to 18 full-time jobs.

"Project Angel Food services 1,600 a day," said Ayoub. "They rely on us to do all of the shopping, cooking, and delivering to their home."

As a preventative measure, the nonprofit is providing an extra two weeks of frozen meals to its clients.

"What if they are isolated?" said Ayoub. "Because of that, it's costing us extra money, so we're looking for extra donations."

To volunteer or donate to Project Angel Food, visit their website or call (323) 845-1832.

Meals on Wheels Long Beach has a similar mission to Project Angel Food.

"We serve homebound elderly, veterans, people who have chronic illness, and mental disabilities that create a situation where they can't go out and shop and cook for themselves," said Executive Director Bill Cruikshank.

While Meals on Wheels Long Beach has not seen a dip among its regular volunteers, the nonprofit made the decision to cut a large portion of its student volunteers.

"We have a large population from Cal State Long Beach students and, because of the concern, we have suspended most of that activity," said Cruikshank.

Around 100 students each semester volunteer with the nonprofit. Those volunteers visit with the clients in their homes to provide long-term assessments.

"It's a large group. That's affecting us," said Cruikshank. "But many of the students are continuing the work with clients over the phone."

Cruikshank said volunteers at Meals on Wheels Long Beach is practicing social distancing with its clients and using extra precaution.

For more information on Meals on Wheels Long Beach, visit their website.

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