So I decided to step it up a little here at ONE GOOD DEED. I want to get a little more involved in my community, and wondered if I could volunteer, but in a way that I might be able try a few things out. Would such a organization exist? In New York City (and now in more than 200 other locations around the United States), the answer is yes. Here in Gotham it’s called New York Cares.
Tonight I went to an orientation for new volunteers; New York Cares offers these sessions several times a month, and on a cold, windy evening, about 40 folks showed up. They were young – I’d say mostly in their 20s and 30s, and about equally divided between men and women. At 58, I was the oldest by at least a decade, which I found disturbing. (And no, I don’t think it’s OK if the reason is because you’re taking your checkbook out instead of donating your time.)
Tripp, our host for the evening, went through an exercise of asking people to stand if they had any prior volunteer experience: a majority of people stood again and again. Worked with kids? Seniors? Food kitchens or meal delivery? Not-for-profits? The list went on. The young woman next to me stood up half a dozen times. Impressive.
And here’s the happiest statistic of the evening. Want to guess how many people in this city stood up and showed up as a volunteer for New York Cares in the last year? Over 40,000. Maybe just once. Maybe a bunch of times. Wow.
But I’ve buried the lead. Here’s the greatest part about New York Cares. You go to their website, and it’s a Chinese menu. Read to a kid on Tuesday. Walk a dog for someone ill on Sunday morning. Help paint a mural and plant some bulbs at a school. That’s what I’m doing on Saturday, so you’ll hear more about that soon.
New York Cares, and the HandsOn Network that reaches around the country, offer incredible opportunities to help. Spend an afternoon, a semester, a summer helping others. There’s no excuse to say you don’t have the time anymore.
In New York, it’s www.newyorkcares.org
To see if there’s an organizations like this near you, go to: www.handsonnetwork.org
And if not, think about getting a few friends together around the dinner table and figuring it out. That’s what the folks at New York Cares did, way back in 1987.
Time is the best gift ever.