UVA Community in Action

Last updated June 2, 2021 at 9:40 AM

UVA Employee Volunteer Center

The University of Virginia is committed to partnering with organizations in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable community. The UVA Employee Volunteer Center encourages University employees to volunteer in support of the region’s ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) response and recovery efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic is a dire illustration of the disproportionate vulnerabilities borne by Black, Latinx, and Native American communities, due to policies and systems that have segregated American life along racial lines for centuries. Police brutality and racialized violence illustrate the deadly convergence of racist systems against communities of color. At the same time, the University is fielding a growing number of inquiries related to volunteer efforts, offers to help, and offers of donations of supplies. We ask you to consider how you would like to help address both the COVID-19 pandemic and racial inequity as it manifests on many fronts. You can make a difference!

Our Purpose

The UVA Employee Volunteer Center coordinates the University’s involvement in this important work. Staffed by representatives from the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach, the Office of Community Partnerships at UVA Health, UVA Human Resources, the Equity Center, and the Office of Economic Development, this Center:

  • Directs UVA employees wishing to volunteer towards critical needs and long-term recovery needs
  • Directs attention toward community-based organizations and initiatives which support the health and wellbeing of vulnerable members of the community
  • Provides volunteer guidelines for personal health and safety
  • Connects volunteers who have specific expertise to those in need of that expertise, where possible
  • Fields offers for donation of supplies and connects them with agencies with known needs
  • Offers resources for employees interested in addressing structural racism

Volunteer/Public Service Leave for UVA Employees

The University provides paid leave to employees to perform community service work for eligible organizations. Academic Division employees have 16 paid hours of School Assistance and Volunteer Service Leave per calendar year. Medical Center full-time, regular part-time, flex staff and management employees may receive approval from their supervisor for up to 8 hours of paid Public Service Leave per calendar year. Employees must seek approval from their managers in advance. You can now track in Workday how you are using your volunteer hours (see the Job Aid here).

Go HERE to Learn More

Community Volunteer Opportunities

The Volunteer Center asks University employees to consider the volunteer needs identified on these community-generated platforms:

  • ReImagineCVA: A comprehensive resource and volunteer board for nonprofits and community organizations in Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Orange.
  • United Way of Greater Charlottesville: Our local United Way features volunteer opportunities with area nonprofits.
  • Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Mailing List: The regional EOC coordinates efforts among Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sign up for the EOC mailing list to receive updates every Wednesday on critical volunteer needs.

  • Critical Areas

    These organizations working in critical areas of need are accepting volunteers:

    • Community Testing Events - UVA Health, the Virginia Department of Health, and numerous other community organizations are hosting a series of COVID-19 testing events this summer. These testing events rely on volunteer support. There are volunteer roles for non-medical professionals, such as greeter and registration assistant, as well as roles for UVA Health providers, RN, MA/LPN/etc. and medical students. 
    • Charlottesville Food Justice Network - Fill out the CFJN network volunteer interest form to stay informed of their volunteer opportunities as they shift from week to week. Volunteers will receive detailed instructions from CFJN prior to beginning their work. Volunteers with the CFJN have helped by making no-contact meal deliveries, distributing meals at drop-off sites, and translating communication materials. Long-term and short-term volunteers are welcome.
    • Blue Ridge Area Food Bank - The BRAFB website allows volunteers to create an account and sign up for their desired shifts. Volunteer shifts take place Monday – Friday and tend to be between 2 and 3.5 hours. At this time, BRAFB can host volunteer groups of up to 10 people in their warehouse locations; off-site locations vary. Volunteers are asked to read and complete the BRAFB volunteer handbook and acknowledgement; watch a training video at home; and bring their own face mask for their shift. Long-term and short-term volunteers are welcome.
    • Charlottesville Meals on Wheels - Meals on Wheels is currently seeking weekly drivers and substitute drivers to make food deliveries. Volunteer shifts take place Monday – Friday. Each shift begins between 10:30 – 11:00 am and lasts about one hour. Meals on Wheels provides volunteers with a one-hour virtual orientation to their work. At this time, volunteer groups are limited to two people per car. Long-term and short-term volunteers are welcome.
    • American Red Cross - This year, consider making your New Year’s resolution to help others. Volunteer with the American Red Cross to support your neighbors in need. Help save lives and ensure no one faces life’s emergencies alone. Visit the American Red Cross website to learn more, including about our most-needed positions.
    • Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) – Please contact Winter Broadhurst at JABA for more information on the volunteer opportunities listed below.
      • FISH Volunteers: JABA is seeking volunteers for the Friends in Schools Helping (FISH) Online Mentors program. FISH volunteers work to provide individualized attention throughout the academic year to K-12 students, either one-on-one or in small groups over Zoom. Volunteers help students improve motivation, self-confidence and socialization, while assisting with academic subjects.
      • Letters and Art to Isolated Seniors: Provide seniors care and connection through sending letters or art. What may seem like a small token, means the world to our seniors.
      • Host a Facebook Live Event: Host a Facebook Live event for seniors to receive programming they generally would get in person: music, arts/craft tutorials, jokes/riddles, teach a skill, etc.
    • PB&J Fund – The PB&J Fund is seeking volunteers who can commit to helping on pack or deliver bags of shelf-stable food for area households on select Saturdays this fall: October 17, November 21, and December 19. Individuals over the age of 18 are invited to sign up. Please visit the PB&J Fund volunteer page to learn more about these positions.
    • Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry - Individuals interested in volunteering should follow instructions at the L&F website to learn about the different kinds of shifts available and how they may be scheduled to work. 
  • Material Donations

    • Cville Craft Aid currently have two active campaigns for which they need volunteers - sewing masks (and other personal protective equipment) for the community and a winter warm-up project for the Haven and CASPCA. Click HERE to learn more.
    • Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) is collecting donations of sewn face masks and mask-making supplies (fabric, elastic, buttons, yarn, etc.) for their clients, volunteers, and staff to use when their physical locations reopen. Please email Winter Broadhurst for more information.
    • Shelter for Help in Emergency provides emergency services to victims of domestic violence and their children including a 24-hour hotline (434.293.8509), emergency shelter, legal advocacy, and counseling.  All services are confidential and free. The Shelter is accepting donations of the following ONLY: masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, sanitizing spray, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, dish detergent, high-efficiency (HE) laundry pods, grocery gift cards, and gas gift cards. Click here to learn more.
  • Blood Donation

    Visit the American Red Cross Find-a-Drive website to learn about upcoming blood drives in your area.

  • Sharing Your Skills

    The community’s long-term recovery will be a complex process. Local nonprofits, small businesses, and community organizations may need support in areas such as grant writing, tech systems, marketing, accounting, language translation, and communications.

    If you are interested in learning how you may be able to volunteer your professional skills to help in such a capacity, please contact the Volunteer Center at volunteercenter@virginia.edu.

    Current skill-specific volunteer needs:

    • Bilingual Volunteers Needed for Translation and Interpretation: Many area organizations are working to provide resources and services to non-English speakers through helplines, documents, and websites.  If you are fluent in Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, Swahili, Dari/Farsi, Burmese/Karen/Karenni, or another language, please contact the Volunteer Center to be connected to community organizations in need of your skills: volunteercenter@virginia.edu.
  • Addressing Structural Racism

    We ask our colleagues to consider the ways in which many of the organizations listed elsewhere on this page exist to address symptoms of structural racism and disinvestment. We also urge our colleagues to learn about and engage with local organizations working to address racial inequity as it manifests on many fronts. Executive Director of the Equity Center, Ben Allen, provides a statement and list of Actionable Steps you can take to become engaged with organizations and their missions. We also encourage the university community to become acquainted with these organizations and offices and welcome additions to this list (contact us at VolunteerCenter@virginia.edu):


Community-University Initiatives

  • Community Initiatives in the News

    UVA students, faculty and staff are deeply committed to the communities the University calls home. This commitment to being a good neighbor includes an array of efforts. Examples include: UVA Health research into a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Financial assistance for affected University employees and furloughed contract workers. Partnerships with local nonprofits and businesses that help address community food insecurity. Read some of the stories reflecting these and other efforts and partnerships here.

    Community Initiatives in the News
  • To Be a Good Neighbor

    The Equity Center at the University of Virginia and community leaders created the document To Be a Good Neighbor outlining ideas and proposals to guide the University to become a good partner in the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the Equity Center website to learn more and read the entire proposal.

    Equity Center Website
  • Project Rebound

    Project Rebound is a local economic recovery initiative to address the COVID-19 economic crisis. Project Rebound will engage local business leaders to share insights, identify challenges and build actionable strategies to restore the local economy. Visit the Project Rebound website to learn how you can get involved.

    Project Rebound Website
  • Charlottesville Area Community Foundation

    UVA contributed $1 million to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Emergency Response Fund to support their efforts in supplying grants to individuals and families in need. And in addition to providing financial support, the University is offering information about newly expanded eligibility for state unemployment benefits.

    Charlottesville Area Community Foundation Website

Learn From Volunteers' Experiences

  • Interview with Loaves and Fishes

    Listen to Jane Colony Mills, Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, and the personal experience of one UVA volunteer, Kevin Murray, who spent time recently with this food pantry serving the Charlottesville community.

  • Interview with Aubrey O'Hara

    Aubrey O’Hara is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications for UVA Career Center, where she informs and connects students with the Career Center’s amazing resources, including online resources, one-on-one counseling, events, and career fairs. We asked her about how her volunteer experience has contributed to creating a more meaningful life.

    Read about Aubrey O'Hara's Volunteer Experience
  • Interview with Ann Lawrence Grasty

    Ann Lawrence Grasty is the Director for University Annual Giving at UVA. She helps people learn how they can engage with the University philanthropically, no matter where they want to give or how much they want to donate. We caught up recently with Ann Lawrence to ask about her volunteer work in the community. It was quite inspiring! Read on …

    Read About Ann Lawrence Grasty's Volunteer Experience

Volunteer Tips

Volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic may encounter distressing situations that are new to them or are unexpected. The pandemic is inflicting trauma on many in our community and intensifying existing need. 

  • UVA Faculty & Employee Assistance Program (FEAP)

    FEAP provides UVA, UVAHS, and UPG employees individual consultations and short-term, focused counseling for a variety of personal issues and common concerns.

    FEAP Website
  • Maxine Platzer Lynn Women's Center

    Counseling and wellness services at the Women’s Center are offered for both men and women individually, as well as for couples.

    Maxine Platzer Lynn Women's Center Website
  • Contemplative Sciences Center

    The Contemplative Sciences Center has expanded their calendar of mindfulness and wellness offerings, including yoga and meditation. Events are virtual and open to the public.

    Contemplative Sciences Center Website
  • Choosing a Volunteer Position

    • Safety and health considerations are important to consider, particularly during this pandemic. See CDC guidelines for in-person activities. If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work virtually.
    • Find the volunteer activity that fits your schedule. Organizations need different levels of commitment for different types of volunteer activities. Serving as a mentor, for example, will require a regular, intensive commitment, while volunteering for a fundraiser may be a short-term commitment.
    • Consider what you have to offer. Do you enjoy outdoor work, or have a knack for teaching? You may also want to think about your specific personality and how your organizational skills or communication style might fit with different organizations or activities. Finally, consider the community’s most pressing needs in a time of crisis, while also considering whether your skills may be particularly useful support for long-term recovery work.
    • Research the organization. What communities do they serve and what issues are they working on? Look for a group that deals with causes or issues which you feel strongly about.
  • Contacting a Community Organization

    • Many agencies are overwhelmed due to the pandemic. Use the volunteer forms, links, and contact information you find. Avoid clogging lines of communication with unsolicited emails and phone calls.
    • Bear in mind that response times may be slow; and when you are contacted, you may be asked to act fast.
  • While Volunteering

    • Be on time. If you have agreed to be somewhere at a designated time, show up on or before that time. Being late shows a lack of respect for others and can cause unnecessary stress for those who count on you.
    • Dress appropriately. The place where you volunteer probably has some sort of dress code. Whether you are doing physical work or performing office tasks, wear something that suits the occasion. If the organization you’re volunteering for has a T-shirt or name tag, wear it.
    • Follow the rules. Chances are, someone has given you a list of rules, either in writing or verbally. Do your very best to follow them because they've been established for a reason. Periodically go over your job description. If you don't have a written one, ask your supervisor how you're doing and if you're meeting expectations.
    • Promote a respectful community. Make efforts to understand and honor the local culture. Adopt a learning mindset. Be sensitive to the fact that you may be interacting with people who are themselves in the middle of a crisis.
    • Communicate. If you see something that the volunteer coordinators need to know about, let them know as soon as possible. Or if you have a better idea for a way to get the work done more efficiently, it will benefit the cause to share your thoughts respectfully.
    • Be discreet. While volunteering, you may see or hear private information that no one else needs to know. Keep it to yourself.
    • Be flexible. You may be actively doing your assigned job when you notice something else that needs to be done. Don't hesitate to do whatever it is, unless it's against the policy of your organization.
    • Bring joy to those you serve. Bring your best positive attitude to the organization you are serving, and uplift the clients who are suffering, or the staff who are overwhelmed and needing your volunteer assistance.
  • After Your Volunteer Shift

    • Has the community organization asked you to record hours? To complete any post-shift report or follow up?
    • Track your hours if you’re requesting UVA Public Service Leave.
    • Reflect on your volunteer experience—What went well? What can you do to improve so that your next shift is more productive, more peaceful?

Contact the Volunteer Center

The UVA Employee Volunteer Center is a combined effort of several University offices including the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach, the Office of Community Partnerships at UVA Health, UVA Human Resources, the Equity Center, and the Office of Economic Development.

Reach us Monday - Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at volunteercenter@virginia.edu or 434.243.4234.

Contact Us

Your Relationship with the Community Organization

When you are offering to perform or are performing volunteer services for a community organization, you are not acting within the course and scope of your employment with the University. You are responsible for the terms and conditions under which you will render volunteer services. 

  • Information about potential risks associated with performing volunteer services in the current environment

    In connection with this program, the University has not endorsed or approved volunteer opportunities or organizations. The participating organizations are independent and are not part of or affiliated with the University. Accordingly, the University does not control, supervise, or direct their activities or personnel and the University is not responsible for their operations, facilities, or property. The University therefore does not warrant or make any promises or representations regarding the conditions, safety, security, personnel, or characteristics of any organization or the location, facilities, or property in which you may be performing volunteer services.  You must exercise your own judgment when evaluating a prospective organization and volunteer opportunity.  The University is not responsible for resolving any problem or dispute of any nature between you and the organization for which you may choose to provide volunteer services.

    The University also is not liable for the independent organization’s contracts, torts, acts or omissions, or those of any person associated with or acting on behalf of the organization or any person being served by the organization.  Importantly, when you are performing volunteer services you are not within the course and scope of your University employment and you are not covered by the University’s or Commonwealth of Virginia’s insurance or risk management plans.

    Performing volunteer activities in the midst of a global pandemic subjects you to risks associated with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and numerous associated serious diseases, medical conditions, and complications up to and including death.  You understand and voluntarily assume all risks associated with providing volunteer services in these conditions, and you agree to waive, release, hold harmless, and not to sue the University, its employees and agents, for any and all loss, liability, damage, claim, expense, cost, injury, or death caused by or associated in any way with your performance of volunteer services.