Volunteers are essential to the county’s COVID response

PUBLISHED: April 15, 2022

April 17-23 is National Volunteer Week, and Clatsop County has additional reason to be grateful to the many generous members of the community who volunteered their time and expertise.

Over the years, volunteers have served in a variety of roles for the county – on search and rescue teams, in youth mentorship programs, at the county animal shelter, and on many boards and committees. In any given year, volunteers provide thousands of hours of service valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars – service the county would otherwise struggle to provide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to individuals, families, businesses and the wider community. Yet local residents have once again stepped up to lend their time and talents to the county’s response to the crisis.

According to data from the county’s Office of Human Resources, in the 2021 calendar year, volunteers donated more than 17,000 hours to the county’s COVID-19 response. This equates to almost $500,000 of work.

Volunteers have been especially critical to the operation of the mass vaccination clinics the county launched in the spring of 2021. Many current and retired medical professionals volunteered to administer the vaccines, while others helped registration, cleaning and traffic control at events, which served up to 900 or more people per day.

Another essential part of the local pandemic response was the Public Information Call Center (PICC), whose volunteer telephone operators answered questions from individuals about masking, vaccines, treatments and related topics, and registered people for vaccinations. The PICC continues to operate today to provide up-to-date information on vaccine recalls and other developments.

“Helping with the COVID response seemed like the right thing to do when the need was so great,” PICC volunteer Chris Woolsey said last year. “It’s good to learn new things, and being involved in the county effort has been a very positive experience.”

“We are truly fortunate to have so many generous members of the community willing to step up and help out,” said Jill Quackenbush, deputy director of public health. “Our volunteers care deeply about us and have been so gracious with their continued support. We could not have maintained the level of services we have without them.

Information about volunteer opportunities with Clatsop County is available on the county’s website.

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Jennifer R. Strohm