When Tammy finished nursing school in December, she knew 2020 would bring many new and exciting changes: taking the state licensing exam to become a Registered Nurse (RN), transitioning into the health care industry after two-plus decades working in finance, and more.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Suddenly, previously-made plans were derailed for Tammy and millions of others across the United States and around the world, as governments shut down schools, travel, and non-essential businesses in an effort to lessen the toll of the COVID-19 outbreak.
But despite the disruption, Tammy says she’s still busy, volunteering every week with the American Red Cross and Northern Illinois Food Bank while also looking for a job as a newly-certified RN.
At the Food Bank, she helps distribute groceries twice a week via My Pantry Express (MPX), a pilot online food pantry program – something she finds immensely fulfilling, especially during such an uncertain time.
“[The pandemic] is affecting so many people in so many different ways,” she says. “So many people – their jobs have been furloughed, they’re laid off, or they work hourly and their hours are reduced. They need help with groceries even more because they have less income now. There’s such a need out there.”
That need is what keeps her coming back.
“We’ve had people tell us, ‘I wouldn’t have been able to make dinner tonight without these groceries,'” Tammy shares. “And it just makes you want to help more.”
Tammy says she still feels comfortable volunteering during the COVID-19 outbreak because of precautions the Food Bank has put into place, such as following social distancing guidelines, using gloves, and streamlining operations processes to reduce the number of people who come into contact with shared items like pens and clipboards.
“If you take the proper precautions – social distancing, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer – you can [volunteer] in a safe way while still helping neighbors who desperately need our help,” Tammy says. “I don’t want people to be afraid to volunteer.”
In times of crisis, volunteers like Tammy make all the difference in our ability to make sure no one goes hungry in Northern Illinois. Learn more about how we’re responding to the coronavirus pandemic and how you can help here.