There are so many benefits to volunteering. You help your community, improve you’re own skills, and meet new people. Sometimes, you may even meet someone extra special. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we bring your a story of two volunteers who met on one of our projects and ended up husband and wife:
I moved to New York City from Washington D.C. in the spring of 1989, and soon realized that I wasn’t really doing anything useful with my free time. Then a work colleague told me about how New York Cares made it easy for young professionals to get plugged in to community service work in their spare time.
What I did not realize was that I was going to meet my future wife on a crosstown bus with the rest of the volunteers from a day of ice skating in Lasker Rink with children from a foster care home in Harlem.
Two years later we were coming back from our honeymoon to help out as Site Captains at one of the first New York Cares Days in East New York. Fast forward another 15 years, and I am in the third year of my new job as a New York City public school teacher leading a Youth Service Club as a faculty advisor for New York Cares at Pablo Neruda Academy in the Bronx.
I guess I would have to say that New York Cares is the kind of place that is there to grow up with you. New York Cares, I owe you big time, and I am enjoying the paybacks. Sally and Carl Barnes…happily married since September 1994 thanks to you!
By Carl Barnes
Have you ever met someone while volunteering? Let us know in the comments. If you haven’t, maybe it’s time to sign up for a volunteer project for more chances at love.
Combine a day of games with 60 kids from two different schools who have never met each other and what do you get? The first ever inter-school competition. All of the planning and organizing paid off to see the students play competitively and have fun at the same time:
The schools were only 20 minutes apart, within a reasonable walking distance from each other. Yet, they were two very different populations of students. It became an opportunity to meet children around their own age, as well as expose volunteers to two sports programs on the Lower East Side. The anticipation in the air was tangible as we boarded the bus that cold Saturday morning. Nervous, one of the Team Leaders from PS 2 told me under her breath that she was worried that a couple of her kids would get into an argument because of their competitive side.
We get so jazzed about the work our volunteers do that we need to find new ways to talk about the great work they do. Sometimes a story and a single picture just don’t cut it. Our latest infographic shows just a small amount of the work you’ve done since Hurricane Sandy hit. Keep the momentum going by signing up for a project today. And thanks for all your hard work so far!
Winter has returned with a vengeance, with temperatures dipping below freezing. But never fear! We have the best way to warm up while giving back. Here are our Top 5 Projects to Keep you Warm over the next week.
This year’s record-breaking Coat Drive was a success thanks not only to the generosity of individual New Yorkers, but also because of retailers and manufacturers that dug into their inventories to help keep our city warm. In total, we received more than 10,500 coats, valued at nearly $320,000, from companies who made bulk donations. Some of the largest contributors included G-III Apparel, Ralph Lauren, Columbia Sportswear, The Fur Vault at Macy’s, KingSize/Redcats, and Nordstrom.
To celebrate our 25th Anniversary we challenged our volunteers to do more work than ever, and the 25 Challenge was born. Volunteers could either volunteer 25 hours of their time on projects, or do 5 projects in 5 boroughs in 2012. Our volunteers were happy to meet the challenge. After receiving a “thank you” email from us, volunteer Loida wrote us the following note.
Thank you so much for a heart warming email- I never thought I would be recognized that much. I forwarded your email to my kids in the Philippines & they shared it to their friends through social media. I’m so happy I made them proud.
My life here in the U.S. is a typical immigrant story. I came here to work hard to give my family back home a good life, send my kids to college with the hope that someday they will be able to join me. My early years here were quite routine – work, home, work. I went out with friends during off days, but most of the time I just stayed home and rested. I missed the time I spent in the Philippines doing a bit of charitable work while working in the government. I had thought of volunteering, and searched online for an organization to join, and that’s how I found New York Cares.
When New York Cares was founded in 1987, New York City was facing many challenges, but it was hard to find ways to volunteer. Since our founding, we’ve made it easy for people to give back in their communities. One volunteer returning from Germany attests to that below:
I am an American, and have lived in Germany for the past twenty-seven years. I returned to New York City recently for just six months because my German husband is a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. Back in the early 80s, I tried to get involved in volunteer work in New York, but it was challenging. When I called organizations they didn’t want me if I couldn’t offer them regular hours or a big time committment every week. Since I was working full-time at the time, it was hard for me to promise consistent volunteering hours.
I can honestly say that volunteering with New York Cares during my time in the city now has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. It has taken me all around New York, and really let me connect with the city and its residents this time. I try to do a very wide variety of different projects. I have especially enjoyed my experiences with young people at Covenant House, as well as with delightful seniors all over the city.
My favorite experience was dancing salsa with a pretty blonde woman at a senior center on the Upper West Side. It was a birthday party for some seniors, and I relayed special music requests from the seniors to the DJ. This blonde woman said she loved Latin music and swore that she wanted to die while dancing the mambo, which I think is something like salsa. I told her I would dance with her if she promised not to die on me, and away we went, holding hands and dancing salsa for a good long time. The whole time I concentrated on the steps she made with her pretty red shoes, and we were a fine pair. After a while we sat down again, both flushed and pleased with ourselves. She told me that she is 94-years-old. Brava!
To New York Cares – thank you for enriching my life! I’ll volunteer again whenever I return to New York.
Volunteering locally is a meaningful way for couples to connect with the city and each other. Now, HowAboutWe for Couples – a new service that designs unique experiences for two – is encouraging their members to volunteer with New York Cares.
Among date ideas like private museum tours and exclusive tasting menus, HowAboutWe for Couples will offer their first “volunteer date,” helping the residents of the Rockaways with their continued clean-up and rebuilding efforts. Our partnership with HowAboutWe is a great opportunity for couples across the tri-state area to get involved. Check out the HowAboutWe for Couples volunteer opportunities and make a difference – together!
Everyday there are issues and needs within our communities. You see them when you walk to work. You see them when you read the newspaper. You can make a difference today. Don’t wait. New York Cares enables you to respond immediately to those needs. If you see something, do something.
The Coat Drive is such a huge undertaking every year that starting in November we barely see our Seasonal Events staff because they spend all their time in the warehouse, and we have to hire additional help. This year was no different, and was in fact, our busiest ever. Lauren Glattly stepped up to fill one of our seasonal positions in the warehouse, and wrote about her experience below.
It was a record-breaking year for the 24th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive, and all of us here at the Coat Drive warehouse would like to send a tremendous “thank you” to everyone who donated a coat, as well as the many volunteers who donated their time and helped us sort the donations.
Starting the very first day of the Coat Drive, in rapid response to Hurricane Sandy, coats poured in from all over New York and the rest of the rest of the country to banish the cold from New York this winter. Out of the estimated 100,000 coats we’ve received and sorted so far, 70,830 coats have already gone out to 282 agencies, and 87 more agencies will pick up coats in the following weeks.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from friends and strangers, neighbors nearby and some as far as Hawaii. We were touched by the interest and enthusiasm of all who came in person to donate coats, including many classes of school children. One very precocious third-grader, who, after asking many pertinent questions about our sorting and distribution process, concluded simply, “You guys are doing a good, good thing here.”
In person, in post, in trunks, and in trucks, they came. Coats of every shape and color — big coats, small coats, fuzzy coats, sleek coats, huge boxes of brand new coats, and even hot pink leopard print coats. Many were sent along with loving messages of warmth, hope, and healing, like the one pictured left. We only wish that all who received a coat could also have seen these many notes of kindness and care, and that those who donated could hear the words of gratitude expressed by those in need.
Although we hope that New York never experiences another storm like Hurricane Sandy, it was truly awe-inspiring to see people pull together in the face of disaster as New Yorkers, as Americans, and as human beings, to help one another. Thank you again for making the 2012 Coat Drive our most successful ever.