An Instinct for AnimalsAnimal Care Centers of NYCManhattan: 326 East 110th Street, between First and Second Avenues
No room for a pet in the apartment? Animal lovers who can't adopt — and even those who have — can carve out time to help the city's always overwhelmed pet care system. The official Volunteer Program of Animal Care Centers of New York City has helpers interact with the animals, whether that means taking a walk or improving animal-human relationships through interaction. A minimum of six hours a month is require to participate in the program — and foster homes are needed too.
Passionate about ParksRiverside Park Grassroots Volunteer Programriversideparknyc.org/volunteer
There's a piece of trash nestled in a bush in a city park. Along comes a hands-on parks advocate, someone who volunteers to pick up garbage. The trash is gone. The feeling of having helped remains. This plays out in all city parks. In Riverside Park, the Grassroots Volunteer Program comes in three categories: individuals, groups and the teen corps. Choose your own time commitment, since the program also has weekly, monthly and annual volunteer events.
Fighting HungerFood Bank for New York City39 Broadway
The Food Bank for New York City says right away on its website that it could never help 1.5 million New Yorkers without the volunteer commitments made citywide. There are ongoing opportunities, like helping to prepare or serve meals, along with seasonal programs. And then there are unusual ways of helping, like helping a New Yorker to prepare his or her taxes.
Soup's OnMonday dinner and Friday lunch programsUnitarian Church of All Souls,
1157 Lexington Avenue
The idea is to present restaurant-worthy meals to people who need them. At All Souls, volunteers serve 400 meals on Mondays, with servings at 6:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., and then there's lunch for 325 on Friday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. To help with the Monday dinners, email firstname.lastname@example.org; for the lunch rush, contact email@example.com. With both initiatives, the emphasis is on creating an atmosphere of dignity and respect.
Food and Much MoreHoly Apostles Soup KitchenThe Church of the Holy Apostles
296 Ninth Avenue
Every weekday at Holy Apostles, the soup kitchen provides more than 1,000 meals. The cafeteria-style lunches are just part of the outreach to people in need, including social services support and workshops. A famous writers workshop was started back in 1994 by Ian Frazier. Those helping with the meals do everything from greeting, serving, bussing and preparing bag lunches to playing the piano.
Finding Your NicheNYC ServiceNYCservice.org
The city has come up with a place to go when you cannot quite decide how to help. Those with a passion for doing their part can head to NYC Service, where the goal is to connect volunteers with nonprofits, businesses and national service efforts. As the slogan goes: “8.6 million New Yorkers. Together, service each other.” It's a kind of clearinghouse of good intentions, matching city denizens to the organizations they are meant to assist.