My time as an intern at Women’s Fund of Rhode Island has been full of learning experiences. Above all, I’ve learned the power and importance of volunteers.
Between studying political science and attending a historically women’s college, I have always been passionate about gender equity. I was so excited to apply this passion to the incredible work WFRI does, and my internship has been even more engaging and educational than I anticipated. What I did not know when I started, though, is just how many and just how passionate Rhode Islanders are about gender equity too.
Before beginning my internship, I had little awareness or connection to Rhode Island. This small but mighty state has shocked me with its emphasis on community, especially when it comes to volunteering. One volunteer explained that, because the state is so small, Rhode Islanders realistically only have one or two degrees of separation, if that, from each other. I’ve had the privilege of learning about the volunteer program and meeting volunteers through attending WFRI volunteer committee meetings and working on celebratory social media features for National Volunteer Month. Additionally, I was able to work on social media copy for the upcoming 100 Men for Gender Equity launch. I was in awe of how many men, especially Rhode Island’s federal and local representatives, eagerly participated and volunteered their time to make videos.
From attending meetings during a lunch break during work or dedicating precious family and weekend time at an event, it is clear to me that volunteers make time for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island volunteers. What really struck me is that many volunteers joined the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to an increase in volunteers not just within healthcare but across the board. It is clear that the economic depression caused by COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women. From child care issues to job loss, women, especially women of color and young women, have a long road to economic recovery. For example, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research explains that “women still need 4.6 million more jobs to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels, compared to men who need 3.8 million more jobs.” (1). At a time when gender inequity is soaring, and the she-cession is worsening; it is incredible to see individuals get involved
Alongside the dedicated staff, volunteers make the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island a special place. Non-profit organizations will thrive when there is a strong sense of community involvement. Ultimately, time is valuable, and I’m grateful for the volunteers who choose to spend theirs fighting for gender equity. Sign up to volunteer here.