How to Connect with Your Community *Your* Way

Written by Rebekah Kawas, Volunteer Engagement Associate

Did you know that even when we’re not actively planning brigades, you still amaze us every day?

From reading your #MyGBStory posts to seeing you transition into leadership roles for your future brigades, from creating more Global Brigades Chapters and educating others about our mission, it’s no wonder that Global Brigades is the largest student-led movement empowering communities toward sustainable health and development goals.

It seems like there’s a lot of collective uncertainty in the world right now and we feel it too. Our team asked YOU what you were doing to stay connected to the people and communities around you during the COVID-19 pandemic. You responded with a collection of innovative responses, including those below, that show us how you are using your abilities to stay engaged all year, even in the face of adversity. Global Brigades volunteers are truly local and global citizens. Again, you amaze us every day.

So far, we’ve seen our passionate volunteers: 

  • Donating blood
  • Working as a Nurse / EMT
  • Sewing masks for public use
  • Answering COVID-19 hotlines
  • Supporting crisis text lines 
  • Creating patient education materials 
  • Translating in hospitals

Stetson Law Pro Bono volunteers alongside GB staff preparing legal documents in Cerro Bonito, Honduras.

This is a fraction of the work you’re doing and there’s more to discover as we continue to go through this pandemic together. If you don’t have the ability to donate blood or translate in your local hospitals, let’s use this opportunity to find your own way to connect with your community.

Connect with Nonprofits

We all have a cause we care about! Nonprofit organizations, both local and international, are losing the ability to secure funding and volunteers. How to show your solidarity with them:

  1. Donate goods to your local or regional food bank. 
  2. Buy bulk supplies for the animal shelter.  
  3. Foster a pet.
  4. Write cards for nursing homes.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your favorite organizations to ask what specific items they need.  Some animal shelters even allow you to ship your donated essentials right to their door on your behalf, like cat litter, dog food, or cleaning supplies. Whatever the cause you are most passionate about, ask what you can do to help. This will make a more measurable impact with resourcefulness, instead of giving without regard for their necessities.


Global Brigades staff in Quebrada Grande, Honduras during engineering project.

Connect with Local Businesses

Small and local businesses are feeling the uncertainty now more than ever as we continue to socially distance. Be sure to follow your most up-to-date state or city safety guidelines. Here are ways to support as we avoid crowded places:

  1. Purchase their store merchandise online. 
  2. Buy gift cards to support now and use later.  
  3. Order fresh produce directly from local wholesalers or farmers.
  4. Reschedule appointments for the future, instead of cancelling. 

Not looking to spend extra right now? The power of social media lets us support locally by shouting out our favorite small businesses on platforms like Instagram or by commenting and liking content. Sharing their profile and leaving a review on Google or Facebook helps spread them to your network and beyond.

Connect with Others

We all need a little extra support these days. Social isolation and decreased contact have the ability to make us feel more alone than ever. Here’s how to stay connected to people just like us:

  1. Reach out to a parent that is educating their child at home to ask how they’re doing. 
  2. Buy a grocery store gift card for a neighbor.
  3. Call someone you know who recently lost their job or had a pay cut. 
  4. Watch a movie with a friend “together” over the phone.
  5. Donate books or board games from home to families in your neighborhood.

 GB Campus Chairperson using markers and toothbrushes to demonstrate dental hygiene to children in Greece.

These remind us that staying connected also means watching out for each other as friends, family, and equal members in communities around the world. While not everyone has the ability to keep in touch with loved ones, we can take this time to appreciate what we can do for one another by listening and reassuring.

Connect with Self

Whether you’re an essential worker or trying to find out how you can contribute in your own way, it’s okay to feel anxious or exhausted. Self-care and self-soothing are the best ways to make sure we have the capability to help others when the time comes. We all play a role in the bigger picture and together, we can be a force of good. If you aren’t feeling up to connecting with your community right now, focus on being just as empathetic with yourself.

Global Brigades aims to empower individuals to become more socially aware and collaborative all 365 days of the year. Show us what you’re doing to stay connected with your community over on Instagram at @GlobalBrigades and by using #GB365.

Sunset at El Censo lodging facility in Honduras with Arendsen Davis

Taylor Clouse