How to Volunteer in NYC

by Mia Chiba

Businessmen in ties, rush hour, and heads held high. Ego is the oil that keeps this machine of a city, running. For many, it’s the only mechanism they have to cope with an environment as extreme and cut throat as NYC.


It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in our life that we forget those around us.


We shove past the elderly women struggling up the subway staircase and scoff at the homeless man begging for spare change. Maybe not that dramatically, but you get the point. Sometimes we forget to be grateful. We forget how lucky we are just to be in NYC with the resources we have.


Did you know that we’ve reached record high rates of homelessness since the Great Depression?


Elderly loneliness has also skyrocketed in a similar fashion. The thing is, you can do something about it! In this post, we are going to explore a variety of organizations and options.


Feed the Homeless:

There are an estimated 62,500 homeless people including 15,176 families and 22,800 homeless kids in NYC.


You see them on the subway, scattered across the streets, and even in lines at your local Trader Joes. It doesn’t hurt to give them spare change, but there are already organizations out there that are dedicated to changing their entire lives around. There are an estimated 62,500 homeless people including 15,176 families and 22,800 homeless kids. Yes, there are plenty of organizations, however, most of them are very reliant on volunteers.


Bowery Mission:


The wonderful thing about the Bowery Mission is that you can volunteer whenever you want and can even schedule a time slot on their calendar. Usually they have it split up into serving Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Prepping the food.


Befriend the Elderly:

By 2030, the number of elders 60 and above are estimated to reach 1.8 million in NYC.


With some simple digging, it’s easy to see that the rates of elderly loneliness is rising rapidly. You may not see them on a day basis, but the they make up around 20% of the nyc population. On top of that, their sector is only increasing with more of the aging population insisting on staying in the city, rather than retiring in the suburbs.



One organization that seems to be making a positive impact is JASA. On their site, their mission statement is to “…sustain and enrich the lives of the aging in the New York metropolitan area so that they can remain in the community with dignity and autonomy.”


They offer a variety of classes and fun activities and are always open for volunteers. Shoot them an email at


Teach Children:

About 30% of NYC’s children are living in poverty and don’t have access to certain resources.


Got computer, journalism or other skills? Why not teach a few kids in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods? There are many different organizations across the 5 boroughs dedicated to ensure that all children have access to the same resources.

The New York Center for Children is just one of the vast variety of organizations out there. To volunteer, submit a simple application. To serve, you could set aside only 45 minutes of your week to tutor.


A Volunteering App?:


If you’re more of a spontaneous do-gooder or you’ve read through all of these options and thought to yourself, “I don’t have time to fit volunteering into my schedule.” here is the app for you. It’s called DEED and its extremely easy to use. Just select the times of day that you want to volunteer and narrow the kinds of volunteer opportunities (like food, sports, tutoring, etc.).




In the end, you can in fact, put your volunteering on your resume. Some organization provide certificates to say that you completed ___ amount of hours. Having that on your resume signals that you are an exceptional time manager and are willing to serve others without expecting anything in return. Volunteering is a great way to make a meaningful impact in the city and as a side bonus, it looks great on your resume. So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend or two and make it an event!