During the holiday season and in early spring, we tend to get wrapped up in ourselves and our families and pay little attention to the outside world. But the outside world needs our help. Whether you plan to help clean up parks, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or even fill out an application for the Peace Corps, it’s a great time of year to become more involved. Why? April is National Community Service Month, and the week of April 10-16 specifically is National Volunteer Week! Join the growing number of volunteers across the country: Approximately 25 percent of Americans volunteer through an organization, and two-thirds help their neighbors, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Find What You’re Passionate About
It’s been estimated that more than 50,000 people in New York City alone are homeless. Across America, 15.3 million children live in households that are food-insecure. Meanwhile, some estimate that within the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. And NYC has a direct impact on a global problem: the amount of pollution produced by big cities that put a huge strain on the environment. These are all some upsetting facts in their own right, but perhaps one made you more upset and more inspired to take action than the others. Find not only what you’re passionate about but what you believe you have the power to change. Then, you can be an inspiration to others when you go to volunteer.
How to Volunteer Locally in NYC
A simple way to find organizations in your area that you can help is to sign up for New York Cares and check out local community projects or browse NYC Service to learn about more ways you can volunteer. However, here are some of the top ways to volunteer in NYC:
- Fight Homelessness: Quite a few volunteer organizations are involved with helping the homeless locally. The Bowery Mission has been serving the homeless and at-risk youth of the area since 1879. The Coalition for the Homeless provides help with proven shelter solutions.
- Fight Hunger: The huge Food Bank for New York City always needs volunteers. City Harvest is another great organization that can always offer help.
- Protect the Parks: Get some fresh air this April and beautify local parks with these official events run by the NYC government and its partnerships.
- Help the Elderly: The Visiting Neighbors organization is a way for locals to check in and help the senior citizens of NYC.
- Help Local LGBT Youths: The Ali Forney Drop-In Center provides medical help, clean clothing, hot meals, and help to homeless LGBT youths.
Larger Organizations and Long-term Commitments
For those who want to go big or go home, these organizations are looking for some big-time help!
- The Peace Corps is a government agency that demands quite a commitment (often two years abroad). Those who have completed it, though, have often found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
- Habitat for Humanity has both short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities, often involving the creation of homes and shelter for locals across the world.
And this just scratches the surface of what’s out there and what’s possible. Start April off with a bang and start volunteering now!