The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, as well as food pantries, churches and neighbors — so many are answering the call for help during the recent devastating events across the nation. Many volunteers are on-site to offer relief, but just as many are in the background: answering phones, receiving and sorting donations, assembling care packages, organizing volunteers and distributing the much-needed supplies.

There is a new category of volunteers that can offer full time attention to these needs. Employers nationwide are offering their injured workers an opportunity to volunteer as an extension of their RTW programs. Employees who have suffered an industrial accident and cannot return to their usual occupation often are forced to remain idle even though they are able to work light duty. When light duty work is not available at the facility where they work, the Transition2Work program matches the injured worker with a nonprofit in need of volunteers. This means truck drivers, maintenance workers, warehouse workers, mechanics and others are now available to volunteer full time while they heal from an injury and offerf experience in what is needed most by the nonprofit organizations working to help offer relief to those in need across the country.

While injured in body, these individuals are able to serve and offer their experience, time and energy. It is amazing the difference that can be made when the right people are matched into the right area of service.

This idea — helping while healing — is truly a “pay it forward” exercise. The injured worker contributes to a good cause, returning to them a sense of purpose. Their experience, knowledge and contribution are much needed and appreciated. Nonprofit organizations benefit from these volunteers as they receive the many years of experience from the volunteer applied to their own mission.