Season of Reason – Fall 2020

Kayak for Kids & veterans logo on photo of kayakers

COUNT wins awards; limited volunteering continues

Foundation Beyond Belief presented two awards to Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) on August 8th as part of the American Humanist Association virtual conference. Andrew Whitacre, COUNT Steering Committee member and Van Buren Center program leader and event host, accepted these awards on behalf of COUNT.

“Congratulations! COUNT has won the Heart of Humanism Gimme Food and Shelter award and Backbone Volunteers award. The annual Heart of Humanism awards recognize sterling service from Beyond Belief Network teams and other humanists who have made extraordinary contributions to compassionate humanism. Your award, Gimme Food and Shelter, awarded to the team with outstanding contributions to causes related to homelessness and food and comes with a $50 grant. Backbone Volunteers is awarded to a team that played a consistent and reliable role in local organization and comes with a $100 grant.”

Selected volunteer opportunities at essential organizations like the Red Cross, were modified and are still being held when COUNT volunteers are allowed onsite. COUNT is handling each volunteer event on a case by case basis. Any held will meet requirements for social distancing and protective measures like wearing masks. For the Van Buren Center and RMH, COUNT involves only volunteers that know the building and practices involved because extra precautions are required. Likewise, COUNT advises anyone at increased risk due to underlying health issues (or living with someone who has increased risk) to avoid volunteering for now. Even events kept on the schedule may have abrupt changes; COUNT event hosts manage these as they arise.

Van Buren Center

Columbus CoR group members have continued to volunteer on second Tuesdays at the Van Buren homeless shelter, when allowed, practicing social distancing and protective measures like wearing masks and gloves. Sometimes the shelter is serving packaged food with disposable plates to reduce risk and does not need us. Our COUNT event host is scheduling 2nd Tuesdays as allowed but will limit novice volunteer participation for now. “It is safer to involve only less-vulnerable volunteers that know the shelter layout and can better assess risk.” COUNT volunteers will be sorting donations on today, September 15th, in response to the shelter’s request that we move our event to the third Tuesday this month.

Bleed-N-Feed

Columbus CoR was represented at three Carriage Place Red Cross donation events held on third Thursdays in January, March, May and July. We skip dining together (or even congregating at the Red Cross) and members report the number of units and donation date for inclusion in our statistics and reports. “RSVP for the September 17th COUNT event even if you might donate on a different day/time/location.” Dave Nohle, COUNT Steering Committee member and BNF program leader

Adaptive Sports Connection

ASC held Get Out And Kayak (GOAK) events on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer and 13 of them have involved 5 COUNT volunteers.  GOAK was designed for safety and social distancing and most events have sold out, allowing ASC to continue operations during a financially difficult time for nonprofits. The public (not just those needing adaptive support) were able to kayak for a nominal cost. COUNT is soliciting contributions to support ASC. COUNT allows new volunteers to participate in these kayak events because ASC produced online videos explaining how to avoid contact and stay safe while performing various roles, holds training events and handles on-the-job training safely as well. Dave Nohle and Brenda Penn are serving as COUNT hosts at kayak events this year.

COUNT volunteers will be at three special fundraising kayak events (that you can still sign up for) scheduled for Thursday September 17th, Saturday September 19th, and at the all day Kayak for Kids & Veterans event on Saturday September 26th. COUNT members have now worked over 500 volunteer hours in their first two years working with ASC.

Ronald McDonald House

COUNT members continued to volunteer at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) at every 1st Sunday this year as they have since May 2013 and will be there again on October 4th, November 1st and December 6th. RMH occupancy dropped to perhaps 50% after elective procedures were curtailed but many families still rely on this resource, we assume including those with hospitalized COVID-19 infected children. “At this time, we prefer that no novice COUNT volunteers work at RMH. It is safer to involve only less-vulnerable volunteers that know the building and procedures because extra precautions are required.” Mike Bondoc, RMH program leader and event host.

COUNT is a member of the Columbus Coalition of Reason.