Ann Popik holding a bicycle wheel

Brooks Rehabilitation Seeking Virtual Volunteers

Beyond Magazine

Jun 22, 2021

This article was originally published in our Spring 2021 Issue of Brooks Rehabilitation Beyond Magazine. Subscribe online.

$20,000 Grant from Volunteer Florida will expand innovative volunteer opportunities during the pandemic

Like many organizations, Brooks Rehabilitation has had to overcome unprecedented challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. Guidance has placed aggressive visitor restrictions on our hospital and long-term care facilities. This created a negative impact on our in-person volunteer activities, as well as increasing health risks for our socially isolated elder population.

Brooks received a $20,000 grant from Volunteer Florida as part of $496,000 awarded to 24 nonprofit and service organizations throughout the state. The grant will enable us to strategically pivot our volunteer activities to virtual programming and provide additional support for our community programs. The goal of the grant is to recruit 400 skills-based volunteers who will provide 3,000 hours of service.

In February, we hired Ann Popik as the Volunteer Program Assistant for the grant. Ann has been volunteering with Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation since 2013 before becoming an employee. In this new role, she will facilitate, recruit and expand opportunities to provide compassionate care to those experiencing isolation, or enable participants to access community-based programming in an innovative and virtual way. Utilizing Volgistics, a volunteer management software, we will be able to match the skills of applicants to a variety of volunteer positions, including:

  • Virtual Peer Mentoring: Volunteer peer mentors will virtually mentor patients, family, and caregivers at Brooks who are living with a spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke and/or amputation. Qualified volunteers are individuals living with a disability or caregivers who provide hope, support, and a path forward for those struggling with their new “normal.” Brooks Rehabilitation assists with certification and training in peer mentorship, in partnership with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Amputee Coalition and other governing organizations.
  • Virtual Buddy: To foster a connection, volunteers will provide friendly calls to residents and guests in long-term care; this may include listening, general conversation, friendship and compassionate support.
  • Entertainment Contributor: To temporarily replace on-site performances, volunteers are encouraged to create engaging content for our residents, guests and patients to view when have downtime. Please submit your own video of music, dance, singing, How To demonstrations, reading of books, short stories or poetry. Be creative and share your talents/passions.
  • Cards/Art or Stories: Create cards, letters or short stories to brighten the day of our patients, residents, and staff all who have had to endure a unique and challenging time.
  • Book Club: Lead the discussion of a book over Zoom. Choose a book and communicate the choice to the group. Conduct a weekly book discussion, of predetermined chapters encouraging everyone’s involvement. Keep book choices to books close to 400 pages to ensure everyone can keep up.
  • Virtual Work Out Companion: Be someone’s accountability partner. Contact them per their exercise plan, and join them via technology as you work out together. They will provide: the exercise plan, including type and duration. You provide the encouragement.
  • Assistance in Brooks community-based programs (Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation, Brooks Pediatric Adaptive Recreation, Brooks Aphasia Center and the Brooks Brain Injury Clubhouse): Volunteers from allied health programs in physical therapy, physical therapy assistant, occupational therapy, occupational therapy assistant, community health, health administration, adaptive physical education, and nursing to provide program assistance will provide virtual and approved in-person programming.

To volunteer and be a part of this initiative, please send an email to [email protected].

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