More than ever, local non-profits are looking for volunteers and donations. Despite the challenges the pandemic has created for our local businesses, they continue to want to support our community; but how do businesses decide which organizations to support? Who deals with the logistics of companies lending their employees out for volunteer work? This is where Bethelite, Maureen Decker, and her new business, Volunteers Open Worlds (VOW) come in. Maureen felt compelled to start her business out of a love and passion for volunteerism.
She says, “I spent years working, but I felt joy in volunteerism and wanted others to experience the joy of giving back.” Through VOW, she introduces small and medium sized businesses to the opportunity of volunteerism. First, she asks what causes a business cares about, and then links them to a non-profit organization related to their interests, in which they give back to. VOW has created volunteer opportunities for businesses through a wide variety of institutions including elderly care, food drives, clothing drives, environmental cleanups, addiction recovery, animal shelters, and more. Maureen says, “If businesses feel inclined to give back, but don’t know how to find opportunities, VOW can make it happen. VOW will coordinate all of the logistics of the employee volunteerism. During COVID, there are no-contact, virtual opportunities to volunteer.”
Due to the pandemic, in-person volunteerism has become more challenging with the reduction of employees in places of business, and non-essential businesses being forced to close. In fact, there are one-hundred seventy-five families in Bethel alone who receive food deliveries from Brotherhood in Action. Typically, Brotherhood in Action delivers food for the holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but have added a summer and fall delivery to those in need. It is organizations such as Brotherhood in Action that Maureen Decker works closely with through VOW. Maureen’s unwavering passion for her work through VOW allowed her to kickstart The Gratefulness Project.
“We [VOW] had to adapt to the situation,” she says. Upon learning of the food insecurity, right here in her hometown of Bethel, she felt inspired to do something about it. As described on VOW’s website, the purpose of The Gratefulness Project is “…to help with the food insecurity that is affecting so many in our community…funds will be used to coordinate and provide food…” Since the initiation of The Gratefulness Project, elderly community members in Bethel have been delivered hot meals from The Amber Room, and five-hundred apple pies have been donated by Caraluzzi’s to Daily Bread Food Pantry for Thanksgiving. The Gratefulness Project plans to work alongside The Morning Glory Breakfast Program in Danbury to set up a table serving a hot breakfast outside of Dorothy Day Hospitality House for Christmas Eve morning. Local businesses can opt to become a sponsor of a local non-profit organization to help with food insecurity in our community.
There is no doubt Maureen and her team at VOW are doing something wonderful for our community. As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” If you are interested in getting involved with supporting a non-profit organization, you can contact Maureen Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-512-2804. You can learn more about VOW and The Gratefulness Project on their website: www.volunteersopenworlds.com.