Volunteering has a ton of benefits. Taking time out of your daily life to give back often offers a reality check. It connects you to the human side of things. It can be fun! A chance to interact with people from other parts of the world with a different set of life circumstances. It can also be an opportunity to make a difference in your community. And the network you build as a result can help you professionally and socially – a great move if you’re new in the neighborhood.
Before you start searching for a volunteer opportunity, have a think about what type of commitment you can give. Whether that be a day over the weekend, a one-off event or a longer-term investment of your time – consider what is manageable.
Maybe there is a cause you’re passionate about, a skill you want to share or a competency you’d like to learn. Perhaps you’re looking to get out of your comfort zone. Or to simply lend a helping hand. Having an idea about these points is a great starting point for finding a meaningful opportunity. Search online. Dedicated websites like NYC Service make volunteer options searchable by zip code or area of interest. They feature hundreds of listings with daily updates.
Go to a meet-up group. A volunteering meet-up group will connect you with the people in your local community that share the goal of getting involved by giving back.
Try a volunteer matching app. The DEED app makes it easy to volunteer in your neighborhood by generating a feed of local volunteer opportunities. You’ll be able to see if any of your mutual friends have volunteered while searching by time, day, and borough.
When you’re newly arrived in a city or neighborhood, one of the best ways of integrating yourself into local life is through volunteering. Not only will you be meeting some of your neighbors, but you’ll also be bettering your new home and building a new relationship with the area. When relocating, you don’t need to look much further than real estate tech’s Blueground. The premium housing provider operates over 800 fully-furnished apartments across the U.S. All of which are found in the most sought-after areas of each city.
Habitat for Humanity NYC transforms lives by building and preserving affordable homes across the five boroughs. They offer volunteer opportunities in their Restores. Selling donated overstock and second-hand items like furniture, appliances, and building materials – everything has 50%–80% off the original retail value. As a volunteer, you’ll help drive sales, assist customers, place merchandise, and help process donations. It’s also a good opportunity for the eagle-eyed to snap something up for their own apartment!
Housing Works provides lifesaving services to New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness. They operate a variety of entrepreneurial fundraising businesses including thrift shops. Volunteer opportunities in the stores are especially good for those with an interest in vintage, books, home decor, and merchandising. Each volunteer is trained for a volunteer experience tailored to their personal skills and interests.
The Street Project connects busy New Yorkers to volunteer projects that can fit just about anyone’s schedule. Most projects take place on Saturdays and do not require a recurring weekly or monthly commitment. Their wide-ranging bank of volunteer opportunities includes Bingo with Seniors – an initiative with a Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to provide their elderly residents with much needed social interaction. And the University Soup Kitchen – serving meals to men and women of all ages in a respectful “restaurant-style” environment.
Professionals from a range of industries come together to volunteer for Saturday meal deliveries throughout the year. These outings provide the opportunity to network with peers. Volunteers benefit from a deeper understanding of how a simple home-delivered meal can impact their lives.
Located out of Bushwick, Brooklyn, South Bronx, and Harlem, Art Start offers longer-term volunteering opportunities mentoring underserved children. Volunteers with an artistic skill to share must commit to a full three months for one night per week. They provide workshops on during the week in the evenings. Subjects range from visual arts and dance to photography, gardening, and music recording.
Pet lovers should investigate this nonprofit that finds homes for abandoned cats and dogs throughout the Tri-State area. Animal Haven offers volunteering opportunities from dog walking to feeding and bathing animals. The minimum commitment is a standing 2-hour shift each week for at least six months. To get involved, there is a $30 donation. This covers the costs of a volunteer t-shirt, online scheduling, training and application processing. Volunteers can also assist with being an ambassador for animal adoption, speaking to the public about Animal Haven’s mission.
Do you want to make a difference in your parks? If you volunteer with NYC Parks you’ll have access to organized events throughout the year. They bring together New Yorkers to paint, clean, rake, and take care of the city’s cherished park space. The themed volunteering events include Forrest Restoration and Community Art in parks.
This organization helps low-income women make tailored transitions into the workforce. They provide interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to more than 45,000 women. There’s the option to volunteer at Clothing Donation Days in Manhattan or work on an individual basis for its career mentorship program.
A three-year volunteer program of mentoring and tutoring accomplished high school students from low-income families. This volunteer program attracts a range of professionals who work in two-person teams to nurture the skills and confidence of students. The program encourages its mentors to apply their own unique life experiences to help their mentees make more informed choices.
Mount Sinai Queens has volunteer opportunities helping make the hospital experience more comfortable for patients and their families. Some volunteers work directly with patients on units, others do so indirectly through administrative duties and at special events. The hospital on the Upper East Side offers 11 different volunteer services from office assistants to musicians and even working with pets too.
Create a Little Free Library. This is an easy way to get-to-know your neighbors and improve literacy in your community. The Little Free Library website gives step-by-step instructions on how to start this a book exchange your local community.
Improve your block by requesting a tree. Living near green space improves wellbeing, especially in urban cities like New York. The NYC Parks Department’s “Request a Street Tree” program lets anyone ask for a tree to be planted on their block, provided it’s not being requested for private property.
Take part in a community-scale composting network. The NYC Compost Project works to rebuild soils. They provide NYC residents with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to produce and use compost locally. There are more than 14 drop-off sites where locals can donate food scraps. Those who donate can request the finished compost to help improve neighborhood soil.