Tag Archives: ny cares

Hands On New York Day

26 Apr

What: Revitalize parks, gardens, playgrounds, community centers, and schools

Where: Bronx River Park, through New York Cares

When: Saturday, 830am-2pm

Hands On New York Day is one of New York Cares biggest days of the year. They mobilized about 5,000 volunteers, in partnership with the MillionTrees initiative, and sent them out to about 75 parks and gardens throughout the 5 boroughs. Some people planted trees, others re-painted fences or picked up trash; volunteers were doing whatever was necessary to fit the needs of the park/garden/school to revitalize and beautify the site.

I volunteered to be a registration leader and ambassador; the first job required that I register volunteers as they arrived at the site, give them a t-shirt, collect a registration fee if necessary, and have them sign a waiver. The ambassador’s (also me), were then supposed to collect all of the registration materials, money and any extra t-shirts, and bring them back to the New York Cares office on W. 29th Street. Though I’m sure that  it wasn’t the case at most of the sites, ours had some major issues that caused a late start. The directions that were sent out to most of the volunteers (including me, who was supposed to be at the site early) were wrong, so people had to get back on the subway and go two more stops to the correct meeting spot. It was really confusing; to add to this, I took the wrong train to begin with, so I was already running late. But that’s my own fault for being directionally challenged.

All of that aside, the Bronx River Alliance did a great job getting people registered and into t-shirts before we got there, and throughout the day were extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their park. It was a great day to  be outside and planting trees. This is an annual event, so you’ll have to wait until next year to try this activity out, but there are tons of opportunities during the warmer months to get outside and volunteer. Check out the organizations on my resource page to find something for you; these type of events/activities are great for groups, as you can all work together digging and planting and just having a good time.



Monday Night Hospitality

1 Apr

What: A meal service program

Where: All Souls Church (Upper East Side), through New York Cares

When: Monday night, 6:30-8:45 pm

This was my first time volunteering in NYC as a part of this website, and it was a great experience. When you first arrive at All Souls Church, there is an office just inside to your left; you can tell the person sitting in there that you’re with New York Cares, and they’ll tell you where to go next. You’ll be given a brief orientation in a room off the main dining area, and then volunteers will be split into groups of 4 or 5 people which will each be given a color. When entering the dining room, you’ll see tables set up (tablecloths, ‘church china’, flowers and all) labeled by color and number, and upwards of 200 hungry people. Things get hectic really fast. At first I froze; some people were holding up their bowls asking for soup, some people yelled, others waited patiently. I just got in line for soup, took my pitcher, and began doling out portions to people sitting at my tables. Two hours fly by, and you’ll end the night breaking down tables and drying dishes. Other things you should know:

  • There are roughly 30 meal service volunteers, plus maybe 15 more in the kitchen. Not everyone is from New York Cares, so feel free to talk to other people and see where they come from and what they’re about while you wait for dinner to start.
  • Wear comfortable shoes; you’ll be on your feet the entire time.
  • No one gets seconds until everyone get firsts (including people waiting outside for a seat to free up). People will ask if they can be the first person you give seconds to (since they may eventually run out of food); this isn’t a good agreement to make, as it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to keep the promise. Just say ‘I’ll do my best’ and move on.
  • Don’t worry about having experience waiting on tables; no one is judging you.
  • Stick to your section! But if you do mess up and serve someone from another group/color, the worst that you’ve done is given someone extra food. Don’t sweat it.
  • If you get confused, just ask a fellow volunteer or your group leader what to do. Everyone is there to help others, including you.
  • Everything is very regimented and organized. Just go with the flow and you’ll be fine.