A recent article published by the New York Post, No Room To Serve, sites the difficulties that some people are having trying to volunteer in NYC. It’s unfortunate, but many volunteers are being turned away from organizations, placed on volunteer waiting lists, and in some cases, going through interview processes and paperwork similar to paid job applications. There are a few obvious reasons for the increase in volunteerism: a hurting economy that’s making people more aware that there are people in need, the unemployed who now have the time to volunteer, and Obama’s Call to Action earlier this year.
Those interviewed in the article, one who is on a waiting list at an Upper East Side shelter and another who couldn’t sign in to projects on the New York Cares website before they all filled up, felt rejected. Which is understandable, since all they want to do is donate their time. However, many places just don’t have the funding or enough staff available to make additional volunteer spots available. It’s not personal, however disappointing it may be.
The article does offer some help, acknowledging that “Despite the fact that candidates are duking it out for volunteer spots these days, experts stress opportunities are available — you just have to look in the right places. Animal- and education-related causes tend to be the most popular, [Greg Bagley, executive director of New York Cares] says, but there is always a need for volunteers to help others with job-interview skills and résumé preparation.”
There are many places that may not be as well known as the more popular organizations -New York Cares or the ASPCA, for example- that still need volunteers. Using websites like NYC Service, Idealist, or Volunteer March, people looking for opportunities may be able to find a place to volunteer. You can also do some good ol’ fashioned legwork yourself and try contacting some of the agencies listed on the website I Can Volunteer.
If you are an organization in NYC with volunteer opportunities currently available, please post them below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org