March 2020 is the month we will all remember as the month the world turned upside down. Travel restrictions forced family members to fly home or risk being stranded in another country. News programmes about the rapid effects of the coronavirus incited panic. Companies and schools closed their doors for the safety of students and employees. Families everywhere faced fear and confusion as they fought to protect themselves and those they loved.
As the pandemic became a reality, many volunteers stepped up to assemble food boxes for students, distribute water to the homeless and deliver necessities to the housebound. Caritas saw a dramatic increase in volunteer willingness to serve communities throughout London and Hertfordshire. Due to the dedication and perseverance of volunteers everywhere, the effects of the pandemic have been lessened in our communities. Yet, there is still so much to be done.
Now that a year has passed, social distancing, masks and quarantine have become a part of our everyday vocabulary. Many of us thought the pandemic would be over by now and we would be back to what we have forever considered “normal life”. Yet, this has not proven to be the case.
At the beginning of lockdown, the needs of individuals in our communities were evident. Students could no longer receive school meals. Soup kitchens for the homeless were forced to close or reduce capacities, leaving many homeless individuals hungry. Employees lost their jobs due to company budget constraints. Though these needs are less visible today in our new reality, they still exist, now more than ever.
We cannot become weary of supporting vulnerable individuals in our communities when the need for volunteer assistance is so great. Families everywhere continue to require housing and food assistance, which charitable organisations cannot provide without the help of volunteers. Though we have become accustomed to the challenges of lockdown and living through the coronavirus pandemic, there continues to be a great need for support of the vulnerable. And volunteers, many inspired by the example of Christ’s unwearying service, continue to step forward.
A year after the beginning of the pandemic, hope lies on the horizon with the beginning stages of mass vaccination taking place worldwide. Though many were unable to attend Triduum and Easter Masses last year, many churches have opened their doors and accommodated coronavirus restrictions to enable the celebration of Easter in person this year. Though there remains much to be done to alleviate the effects of a trying year of disease and lockdown, there is reason to have hope this Easter.
So, this Holy Week and Easter season, celebrate the redemption found in Christ’s death and resurrection, seek out opportunities to serve the vulnerable, just as Jesus did, and rejoice in the hope of an end to the pandemic.
Rachel Rell is a student at Notre Dame university, USA, and currently has a (remote) volunteer placement with the Caritas Volunteer Service
You may also be interested in: Twelve months of change: our memories of a turbulent year.