It has been a tough year. Like organizations across the country and the world, ServeOhio made major shifts to our programming in 2020 and transitioned to a virtual office. While the challenges were great this year, it was also a year where we saw incredible resiliency, passion for service, and new opportunities. As we prepare to ring in the new year and hope for a brighter 2021, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on the good stuff from 2020. Ohio AmeriCorps Members Continued to Serve During the Pandemic AmeriCorps members and programs have been incredibly adaptive in serving the needs in their communities during the pandemic. Ohio AmeriCorps members have served over 8,000 hours in response to COVID-19. These AmeriCorps members performed alternate service activities to meet the needs of the moment. Members supported students remotely by participating in e-learning, tutoring, mentoring, and coaching. They collected and compiled lists of resources to help with basic needs, health services, job, and housing services during the crisis. They also served in food pantries, packaged meals, and delivered the meals to the most vulnerable individuals in their communities. We’re thrilled to report that 643 AmeriCorps members successfully completed their service in 2020 and we currently have 624 members serving to address the most critical needs in their communities. #OHACstillserving AmeriCorps Members are Volunteer Mobilizers in Ohio In addition to serving their communities during the pandemic, Ohio AmeriCorps members also recruited community volunteers to serve alongside them. In the 2020 program year, Ohio AmeriCorps members recruited 4,430 community volunteers who gave 35,893 hours of service to their communities to address critical needs. We are so inspired by the incredible impact of Ohio’s AmeriCorps members and volunteers! Community Resilience Projects When the pandemic hit in March, ServeOhio was in the middle of the Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) Grant competition which would have supported large volunteer projects on GYSD in April. Since we did not want to promote groups of people coming together in-person, we decided to redirect those funds to support communities who were either directly or indirectly addressing immediate needs caused by the pandemic. We launched the Community Resilience grant competition in late-March which provided up to $2,000 in funding to support community-led projects addressing the needs of the most vulnerable members of their communities. The funds were highly competitive – we received more than 260 applications for funding from across the state. We awarded $60,000 which supported 36 organizations who delivered food and toiletries to seniors, delivered meals, diapers, and school supplies to children, made masks, mailed cards, and so much more. The projects mobilized 1,586 Ohioans (safely and socially distant) and impacted 23,514 of the most vulnerable residents in their communities. Here are just a few examples of the amazing service that took place. - Cleveland - the Famicos Foundation mobilized 30 volunteers to supply food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and paper products to low-income seniors and single parents suffering during this crisis. - Kettering - the Kettering Backpack Program used their Grant to mobilize 20 volunteers to distribute puzzles, books, craft kits and games to help occupy children and encourage family fun while social distancing. - Columbus - The PAST Foundation used their Community Resilience Grant to purchase materials that allowed 50 student volunteers to 3-D print reusable face masks and face shields for nurses and other professionals at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. These are just a few examples of how individuals and organizations across Ohio have stepped up to strengthen their communities in times of crisis. We continue to be inspired with how quickly communities responded and mobilized members of their community to respond to the needs of their most vulnerable residents. Launched Get Connected – Ohio’s First Statewide Volunteer Portal! Over the summer, we launched a new statewide volunteer engagement platform, Get Connected . The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the incredible importance of local volunteer service, but many areas in Ohio, specifically rural areas, did not have local volunteer engagement resources. We launched Get Connected to provide volunteer engagement infrastructure in Ohio communities that did not have existing resources as well as to highlight and support the resources that already exist across the state. Built on the Galaxy Digital platform, Get Connected provides volunteer administrators a management system to post volunteer opportunities, recruit volunteers in their local community, and manage their volunteers all within the platform. Volunteers can search for opportunities that best match their skills and interests. Interested in posting volunteer opportunities on Get Connected? Click here. Hosted a Virtual Conference on Service and Volunteerism It became clear in the spring that the 2020 Ohio Conference on Service & Volunteerism could not convene participants in-person in the fall. The conference committee made the decision to host a virtual conference instead and it was a great success! We hosted four interactive webinars throughout October with high quality content that helped volunteer and service professionals navigate the challenges of the moment - the pandemic and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Did you miss it? You can still access two of the sessions on our website here. Approved State Service Plan for 2020 - 2022 Like other state service commissions, ServeOhio is charged with developing an actionable three-year national and community service plan to establish state priorities relative to national service and volunteer engagement. Read the full 2020 - 22 plan here. Since our inception in 1994, ServeOhio has invested more than $195 million dollars in AmeriCorps and other state, federal and private funds in Ohio’s communities. In that time, over 35,000 Ohio residents have served as AmeriCorps members, providing 56 million hours of service, and earning education awards totaling $118.2 million. Honored Outstanding Volunteerism in Ohio The ServeOhio Awards honor outstanding people, groups, and initiatives who make great contributions to their local communities and the state through service and volunteerism. Even though we could not present the awards in person, we honored the 5 recipients via social media during National Volunteer Week. Read about our inspiring recipients here. Want to nominate a volunteer for the 2021 ServeOhio Awards? There is still time – nominations are due by January 29 th . Learn more here. Wrapped Cohort 2 of the Skills-Based Volunteerism Training Academy This year, we engaged 12 nonprofits in the Skills-Based Volunteerism Training Academy to increase their capacity to take advantage of highly-skilled professional volunteers. ServeOhio and our partner Common Impact trained and supported each organization in the effective utilization of skills-based volunteers in projects that increase the capacity and effectiveness of their individual organizations. Our third cohort launches this spring and there is still time to apply. Learn more here. Thank you to all the members, program directors, site supervisors, volunteer administrators and community volunteers who work to make Ohio communities stronger every day of the year. Cheers to a brighter 2021!