While San Diego County businesses are facing a shortage of employees, some local nonprofits are facing a shortage of volunteers.
“Volunteers are the heart of our organization. We can’t do what we do without them,” said Carissa Casares, communications manager for Feeding San Diego.
The non-profit organization based in the Sorrento Valley says it has operated over the past financial year with around 90% fewer volunteers than the previous year.
“Part of that was our doing, on the right, because of space, capacity restrictions,” Casares explained. “Over the past three weeks, a number of groups have canceled.”
The other volunteers may have gotten sick, are afraid of getting sick, or can no longer afford to simply volunteer.
South Bay Community Services also tweeted an urgent call for volunteers on Wednesday.
“We could always use more volunteers, especially with these very large distribution sites,” said frequent volunteer Gerri Matthiesen.
Casares said it’s people like Matthiesen who have enabled Feeding San Diego to hold nearly 100 more mass food distribution events in the past year. Casares said the nonprofit was able to provide food to 29% more people last year than the year before despite the drop from 9,950 volunteers to 1,030.
“It’s a staggering decrease,” Casares said. “We had a really central group working more to make sure those meals could get distributed.”
She added that some volunteers logged more than 500 volunteer hours in 2021.
“It’s my way of giving back to the community because food insecurity is such a big issue these days,” Matthiesen said.
“These people are selfless. They are generous,” Casares added.