Even though our work schedules keep us busy, setting aside a few hours every week to voluntcan make a positive impact in our lives and the lives of others. Volunteering is a great way of giving back to the community and feeling connected to others who share the same passions towards a certain cause. Here are some opportunities for volunteering on the Upper West Side.
Wild Bird Fund
The Wild Bird Fund is a place where injured birds found around the city can be taken care of once they’re out of harm’s way. In a concrete jungle like NYC, many migratory birds find their paths obstructed by an accident of some sort and are not able to make it to their final destination. Enter the Wild Bird Fund.
This rehabilitation center steps in to help these birds so that they continue to be on their way. You can help and contribute by volunteering at the clinic, the front desk, or by performing outreach duties. Those who decide to volunteer at the clinic will be keeping the records of the injured birds and making sure every cage is clean. The Wild Bird Fund works towards a great cause and is ideal for volunteers who are compassionate with animals and wildlife.
Goddard Riverside Community Center
Founded in 1959, Goddard Riverside Community Center is the end product of a merger between two historic settlement houses. Nowadays, the community center provides affordable housing, education, and opportunities for meaningful interactions with others to those who are in need. They have programs specifically designed for children, adults, and seniors. You can volunteer your time here through different programs and they’re always on the lookout for new helpers.
A great way to help is by volunteering at the Book Fair which is their largest fund-raising event for the year. Volunteers help sell the books at the fair after they are donated by the major publishing houses in the city. You can also help by becoming a tutor at the Star Learning Center. This is a program in which low-income students receive one-on-one tutoring from volunteers in order to improve the child’s academic life.
Riverside Park & Central Park Conservancy
A great way of helping take care of Riverside Park is through the Grassroots Volunteer Program. This program is vital to the park’s conservation and volunteers can help out on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Once each volunteer decides the amount of time they can dedicate to the program, they can become a ParkTender, PlacePartner, or a ParkRover.
There’s a similar program for Central Park, which also relies on the help of volunteers to maintain it’s 843 acres of green space. They offer a variety of programs and volunteers can participate in the one that is of most interest to them. For example, volunteers in the Painting Program get to paint fencing, railing, and more than 9,000 benches that give a special character to the park. Other programs include the Horticulture one in which volunteers plant, mulch, rake, weed, and prune the garden to keep it looking beautiful.
West Side Campaign Against Hunger
The West Side Campaign Against Hunger has more than 35 years of history and was the first organization to create a supermarket-style food pantry in which customers could pick foods according to their preference. The campaign’s objective is to create access to healthy food for people of all backgrounds and to help those who find themselves having to choose between food or shelter.
They also promote a healthy lifestyle to their customers by offering exercise classes and nutrition workshops. Volunteers here get to stock shelves, bag bread, break down boxes, work checkout, and assist customers. They are a key part of the campaign’s success since they are the ones ensuring more customers can be taken care of. Volunteers can also help by donating cash, healthy food, or clothing in exchange for a tax deduction.
DOROT is a non-profit organization that is in charge of providing senior citizens with housing, food, and opportunities for education and personal development. Their excellent programs help serve more than 10,000 seniors who live on the Upper West Side. The organization’s main goal is to foster a beneficial relationship across members of different generations to build a better and more integrated society.
DOROT was founded by a group of college students who visited homebound elders and decided to make a change. Volunteers of all ages are welcome here and perform fun activities as a caregiver that can involve anything from taking their client to a concert or theatre play, to helping them write a memoir and making sure they can enjoy a higher quality of life. There’s nothing like helping others while also helping yourself.