By: Sabrina Schaefer
After spending decades in the public service sector managing city planning and community revitalization, Tim Gauss knows a thing or two about what it takes to make a community successful. So, when Tim saw his hometown of San Diego suffering the impacts of COVID-19, he stepped in to support his neighbors.
Early into the pandemic, Tim found a volunteer opportunity at It’s All About the Kids through Coaching Corps’ volunteer platform. At the organization, he and the rest of the crew prepare and distribute food to hundreds of underserved kids and families every day. But the benefits flow both ways. Tim says the feeling at the site is joyful and friendly while still being safe—a refreshing change of pace after months of isolation while caring for his elderly father.
“Like most people, I’ve been sequestered at home, so it really feels good to be doing something positive for the community with other people who have a like-minded purpose,” Tim says.
The “like-minded purpose.” as he sees it, is to help mitigate some of the intentional gaps in our communities that the overdue attention towards the Black Lives Matter movement has surfaced—issues like food deserts and unequal access to sustainable employment and housing.
Tim says the movement has pushed many people, himself included, to take action and join Coaching Corps’ Summer #CorpsCommunity. He’s found that volunteering is a way to fulfill the desire to make a positive impact. “This is a tangible way to address a very real need,” Tim says, “A way of tangibly loving people and caring for the community.”
During his time at It’s All About the Kids, Tim hasn’t only felt his bond with the San Diego community grow stronger, but he’s witnessed others experience the same feeling. When describing his interactions with the people who come to the site for food, Tim says they’re sometimes shocked to learn that their neighbors care about what they’re going through. “I don’t want to say [they’re] taken aback, but [people are] glad to see that there are other people who care about their situation,” he reflects.
Like other Coaching Corps volunteers, Tim says this is a great opportunity for community members to see another side of their neighbors and break down negative stereotypes and personal biases. By volunteering alongside young people, Tim says he’s gotten to experience a reality far different than what is often portrayed by negative media, particularly as it pertains to youth of color.
Understanding the risks and sensitivities of volunteering during COVID-19, Tim hopes others will consider going out to discover the value of local volunteerism for themselves.
“Everyone has to choose a way to volunteer based on their health and time. [If you do] take the plunge, you will have a wonderful experience, you will be with great people, you will discover wonderful things about yourself, and you will be humbled by the larger picture you’re a part of.”
To join Tim and the rest of the Summer #CorpsCommunity doing good work, visit CoachingCorps.org to find a site near you. You can read more volunteer features and learn of new opportunities in real-time by following Coaching Corps on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.