(Update: Added video, comments from St. Vincents de Paul)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Volunteers at St Vincent de Paul of Bend have returned indoors for the first time or so since the start of the pandemic, stocking up to help those in need in the central l ‘Oregon.
However, Gary Hewitt, executive director of the organization, said that since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the number of volunteers has been low.
âOf our 55 volunteers, I think we lost 35 of 40 almost overnight,â Hewitt said.
Hewitt said most of the volunteers said they would come back, but had to find new ones instead.
Now, with the Omicron Covid variant officially spreading in the United States, in four states on Thursday, Hewitt said half a dozen people have raised concerns, while others plan to wait and see how things would go.
âWe have had a few people who have raised concerns about this new variant,â Hewitt said. âSo I’m trying to recruit staff again and recruit more volunteers because people have legitimate concerns about their own health. “
He said some had medical issues, while others were planning to travel and didn’t want to risk getting infected.
Hewitt understands these concerns, but he says if everyone is wearing their masks, getting their shots and booster shots, it should be a safe place to volunteer.
In addition to boxes of food, clothing vouchers and other typical services, Saint-Vincent de Paul has boxes of turkey to offer for the holiday season.
Hewitt said this new variant comes at the worst possible time.
âIt hurts a lot, because right now, like I said, we had just opened our doors, so we need a full staff, at a time when a few people might leave us,â Hewitt said. .
âI feel there is a greater need now than just a month ago. “
But he’s optimistic the community will grow stronger.
âI think we’ll fill them out,â Hewitt said. “You know, we’re always looking, but it always seems to work. Someone goes and someone else shows up.”