All over New York City, there are hundreds of organizations addressing our biggest social ills. They are working to end violence in inner-city communities, educating disadvantaged children, rescuing victims of human trafficking, fighting for tenant rights, and providing healing and hope to the addicted, the homeless, and the incarcerated. At times it seems like there is no end to the deep needs our neighbors face.
Courageous nonprofit leaders are being asked to achieve and measure significant results in their area of service, while also juggling excellent financial management, fundraising, communications, and of course program development and implementation. Many are showing it can be done—by rigorously and fearlessly confronting questions related to strategy, capital, and perhaps most important, talent.
Looking ahead, it seems likely that these agencies will be asked to take on an increasing share of this important and difficult work of fighting injustice, inequality, and discrimination, possibly with less government funding. How will they manage? Well, according to Hope For New York, a volunteer agency in New York City, it will require growth in two areas, collaboration and an unprecedented movement of volunteerism.
If your New Years resolution included a thought or two about giving more of your time or contributing a particular talent to those less fortunate, then read on…
Prayerfully consider taking action. Make a call, explore a website, sign up for something for one day that will give you an idea of what volunteering regularly might look like.
You wouldn’t consider buying a home without visiting it several times. We don’t recommend getting married without dating first. The same goes for volunteering. Why say no to something you haven’t explored or experienced?
Some reservations about volunteering are legitimate. For instance, signing up to mentor a formerly incarcerated adult is not something to do on a whim, without training. However, a fear that you don’t have enough free time to make a real difference isn’t valid. There are many entry level, low commitment opportunities to serve, experiences that can help answer questions such as:
What are the people like?
How hard will it be?
Will I really be able to make a difference?
If I really don’t like it, will it be embarrassing or hard to quit?
An organization like Hope For New York (HFNY) is a great place to take that first step. They have over 44 affiliates doing amazing work serving the poor and marginalized in New York City. There is at least one that is a perfect fit for your time and talent.
This February, a campaign HFNY sponsors called “Don’t Walk By,” will conduct city-wide outreach to serve the homeless with teams of people just like you. This is an opportunity to work with two affiliates that have deep experience in this area, the Rescue Alliance, and the Bowery Mission. Every Saturday there will be opportunities to serve alongside more experienced volunteers for one day to reach, feed and minister to the homeless.
There are many other simple, small opportunities to get started. You can cook or serve a meal, read to a child, teach a class, give someone some legal advice, these are all great ways to explore what kinds of service God might be calling you to. He has blessed everyone with gifts and talents, with the intention that we would give it back, serving others for His glory and to build his Kingdom.
There is nothing wrong with resolving to diet, seek better fitness, experience improved relationships with friends and family, or find a new career. There are many wonderful New Years Resolutions to make and keep. Moving volunteering to the top of your list is a great way to truly enrich your spiritual walk, which will lead to accomplishing all those other goals, as well.
If you love kids and teens, or if you are passionate about education, then you can also explore this site for more opportunities to volunteer. Then, prayerfully consider hitting the “submit” button and join us as we fight for equality in education, and provide opportunities for Latino youth living in poverty.
Nothing like renewing the hope of someone less fortunate than yourself to get this New Year off to a great beginning. Let’s Get Started!