Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, a day for Americans to volunteer to help improve their community. In the middle of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, there are plenty of people in need of that help. But the pandemic has complicated how charities and nonprofits operate.
Normally, Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena, California, would be gathering a small army of volunteers on MLK Day to prepare food or tutor kids in temporary housing. But that’s not possible this year, said operations director Amanda Green.
“We now have volunteers who are ordering from local restaurants and delivering those dinners instead of serving it themselves and making it,” Green said. “We have an online tutoring program.”
Even volunteer work has gone remote.
“Many, many, many organizations are now engaging volunteers to do wellness checks with seniors living at home in isolated situations,” said Beth Steinhorn, a volunteer strategy consultant.
That approach has made it easier for people to join in. A report from the nonprofit Points of Light shows a surge in volunteer interest.
“The pandemic really touched Americans hearts and desire to roll up our sleeves,” Steinhorn said.
Even if those sleeves are resting on keyboards as folks sit at their computers.
What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?
The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.
What kind of help can small businesses get right now?
A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.
What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?
New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.
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