COVID-19 FAQs for Volunteer Opportunities

Feeding homeless COVID takeoutWe have responded to the uncertainties brought on by COVID-19 by continuing to provide meals through the Community Café, as food is first among all basic needs. Although we have had to temporarily suspend a regular schedule of clothing and food distribution, we are still providing those resources on an emergency basis.

While safety is our top priority, we also know that hundreds of neighbors depend on meal service each day at UMD. If our kitchen closed, it would negatively impact their health and well-being. We have modified and continue to adjust how we serve to prioritize the safety of our staff and volunteers. We are open to suggestions and would like to hear from you.

Currently, meals are served to the community in takeout containers. We have set up a tent outside with a table to provide contactless meal pick up. Volunteers serving at the table are able to maintain social distance while serving. Masks and social distancing are required to enter the line to receive meals.

Meals are still being provided by onsite and offsite volunteers. Here are some of the options that remain available to groups:

  • You can prepare and serve meals onsite. You are able to prepare meals in the UMD kitchen and assist with serving them.
  • You can prepare meals offsite for onsite service at UMD. After delivering them, you may help plate the meals onsite prior to the beginning of meal service and then leave or you may remain to serve.
  • You can prepare meals offsite and make a contactless delivery to UMD. We can meet you outside and remove the meal from your vehicle. We will utilize volunteers to plate and serve the meal. Contactless in-kind donations are also available if scheduled ahead.
  • We can work through a local, low-cost catering company to provide the meal. Please contact us to obtain the cost for this option. Your check can be sent via mail to cover the cost of this option.

We are in need of volunteers.  Here are some answers to some of the top frequently asked questions about volunteering during this time:

  1. Are we still allowing onsite volunteering? Yes, we continue to depend on a small core of volunteers to assist during meal service. We have streamlined our process to require a smaller team of volunteers to allow for social distance.  These volunteers are essential to meeting the nutritional needs of our clients.
  2. What can I expect when I come to volunteer? We ask that you sign in each time that you come to volunteer. You can expect to assist with some basic meal preparation approximately one hour before service. You may help with set-up preparation, plating food and meal service.
  3. Are there any special requirements? We ask that volunteers wear a mask or face covering. We will provide one if you do not have one. Much like a restaurant, we ask that you not come to assist with meal service if you are not feeling well and/or have a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees.
  4. Can I have my temperature checked when I arrive at UMD? Yes, UMD staff members are required to take their temperature daily before reporting to their work station. We are able to take your temperature using an infrared thermometer upon your arrival.
  5. Is there a process to ensure that the kitchen is being sanitized? Yes, the café and the kitchen are both sanitized before and after meal service.
  6. Is there any congregate dining? New: now that residents have returned to the UMD campus, we are providing meals to the residents only in the café. Masks are required for entry, we have removed tables to limit capacity and have added table-top barriers.
  7. What times are meals served?

         Monday through Friday

Breakfast 8-9am   volunteers arrive at 7am

Lunch   bag lunch

Dinner 6-7pm  volunteers arrive at 5pm

         Saturday & Sunday

Breakfast 9:30-10:30am  volunteers arrive at 8:30am

Lunch 12:30-1:30pm   volunteers arrive at 11:30am

Dinner 6-7pm   volunteers arrive at 5pm

  1. How can I get on the schedule to volunteer? Please check with your coordinator first if you are part of a group. If you would like to volunteer on a day that your group is not serving or as an individual, please contact Viki Baker at or 919.682.0538 ext. 125.

Creating Jewelry and Worth: A Volunteer’s Story

Jewelry class volunteer
Sue and team sell jewelry at UMD’s annual Empty Bowls fundraiser

At UMD, we have many unique volunteers that take time every month, or even every week to serve their neighbors in need. We are so incredibly grateful for all of them and want to take the opportunity to highlight their stories and experiences. This post will be the first in a series of posts about how they help at UMD and how their volunteer work impacts them and their community!


Recently, we talked to Sue Beauchamp, who has been a UMD volunteer since 2016.


What do you do?


Sue hosts a jewelry class every Friday morning at UMD, open to clients and members of the community. For an hour and a half, clients can come and go as they please and make bracelets, earrings, or necklaces. All of the materials are donated.


“You don’t always see the same people.” Some people come in every week, while others wander through the door for the first time with no prior knowledge or skills in jewelry making.


Clients can keep the jewelry they make or choose to sell it. “Some of them are really talented. They make some beautiful stuff.” Often, men come in and make jewelry for someone they care about – a significant other or their children that they may not get to see often.


“It’s really sweet.”


How did you start volunteering?


“I used to live in Florida and volunteered at a homeless shelter for pregnant women and single moms.” There, she made quilts, greetings cards, and held bake sales with clients.


It touched her heart to see the effect creating things had on clients’ self-esteem, “It transformed the way they felt about themselves… I’m a crafty person. I’ve always liked using the gifts I have and sharing them with others.”


A few years later, she moved to Durham and her neighborhood had a group that regularly served breakfast at UMD. Once she started volunteering, she noticed that UMD had a jewelry class and thought it was a great way to share her gifts as she’d done before. She asked the volunteer in charge if she wanted help running the class, and she did. For some time, Sue worked with her, until she began struggling with some health problems and would not be able to run the class anymore.


“She needed to step down and I stepped up,” Sue recalls, and she’s been running the class ever since.


Why do you volunteer?


“To show them that they can do more than they think they can.”


Often, clients will come in feeling discouraged and insecure about themselves, Sue told me. Making jewelry offers clients an opportunity to focus their energy on something other than their struggles, socialize with others and build relationships, and make something they’re proud of.


“Some people come in that never come in off the street. I think it must be meaningful to them, it must have some value.”


It offers clients an opportunity to tell themselves “You are worthy.”

This interview was prompted ahead of Sue’s move outside of the Triangle area. If you are interested in helping with the jewelry class, please contact our Community Engagement team.