Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Volunteers, Outreach Programs and Community Service

I'd like your recommendations, please.

I'm looking to volunteer somewhere in New York. My interest is twofold:

1. Jewish outreach
2. Secular

When it comes to Jewish outreach programs, the only one I ever really heard about was NCSY. I was never involved in it because my impression was that it was merely a hangout/ social scene. I also don't like the idea of conning people into accepting a religion/ becoming more religious. I don't know if there's any program that would really fit my interests, but I would enjoy talking with people who are curious to know more about Judaism from the more logical/ textual side of things rather than desiring mere social interaction. I know that some people set up chavrusas and learn with interested people, but I'm not sure that's what I'd like to do, either. I'm better at teaching people than learning with people. Maybe I'd be best teaching at a Hebrew school or a Sunday school. I'd like to do something hands-on, in any case.

With regard to secular volunteer programs. I'd particularly like:

1. Working with battered women/ abused children
2. Working with children with cancer/ suffering from terminal illnesses

I love children. I'd love to just play with the kids, especially since they're kids who probably don't get to play so often. I love to dress up, I love costumes, I can be rather creative and I can deal with sullen responses. Basically, I can bring fun to people. I don't know if there are any opportunities for me to do anything like that, or if it's even allowed, but it's what I'd like to do. Again, I'd prefer to do something hands-on rather than clerical/ secretarial work.

I'm also just curious. What are soup kitchens like, for instance? Would I want to volunteer there? Any and all recommendations appreciated.


Working knowledge of basic computer programs + some advanced
Types 100+ WPM


Tutor (Unpaid)
Nursing Home Visitor (80+ hours)
Hurricane Katrina Interim (helped restore a mental health facility opened to house refugees to its previous state/ resorted blankets, toiletries, etc.)
Thrift/ Charity Shop Volunteer (helped customers/clean-up/ organize the store's merchandise)
Kohl's Children's Museum Volunteer (80+ hours)
Anixter Sourcing Specialist (Summer)

So, what can you recommend for/ to me? Any and all recommendations/ ideas would be appreciated. Also, I'd appreciate the input of anyone willing to give their personal experience regarding various organizations/ volunteer agencies. For now, the location is irrevelant so long as it's somewhere in New York. If you happen to know about anything closer to Manhattan, though, that'd be great.


Anonymous said...

Contact Childrens'Hospitals and ask to speak to children's activity coordinator. Discuss your wish to play/do fun/interactive activitities. They would love to have someone like you on board.

Anonymous said...

Chai Lifeline is an amazing organization. It seems you would particularly enjoy working in their camp for seriously ill children, Camp Simcha. I have never met anyone who did not come away from that experience both changed and pleasantly surprised at how much fun they had. Also, try Dorot in Manhattan. I worked with them on linking my 3rd grade students with elder programs in the area. They offer all kinds of opportunities to volunteer. Aish Hatorah has some great programming. I know secular Jews get involved and do not necessarily "convert" to Orthodoxy. Aish approaches Torah and outreach more from a place of logic. And by the way, don't be so quick to knock NCSY. Bottom line is they ignite a spark in kids who may never get it elsewhere. Socialization in the teen years is an integral part of a Public School teen's life. It has to be part of the NCSY package. I am a cynic and quite intelligent(if I may say so), but I have been moved by NCSY Shabatons in ways that my classes in yeshiva high school and seminary never did. Maybe that's because NY NCSY is more public school populated than out of NY chapters. There are many pathways to inspiration. Your words carry weight, at least with me and I'm more than twice your age. Good luck on your path.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

oops. Here's the correct link:


Lab Rab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lab Rab said...

The Jewish Board of Family and Children Services has a large volunteer corps participating in a wide variety of projects. Click here for their volunteer page. Their main office is on W. 57th St, but they have satellites all across the city. The certification process can be a bit tedious, but working there you will have access to any and all social-work programming.

In terms of chavrusas, if you choose to go in that direction, a couple of convenient options are: one on one learning at Aish Hatorah on the Upper West Side on Monday nights. Or for that matter at my shul on Wednesday nights. Also phone chavrusas with .

I may be able to refer you to a particular Hebrew school but in that situation I'd need to know better your availability and experience. We'll be in touch by email.

Anonymous said...

I know that the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry can always use volunteers.

Anonymous said...

How about Bnei Akiva?

Irina Tsukerman said...

You might be interested in Safe Horizon. It's a wide-spread program that helps provide counseling, shelter, and legal services to battered women and children. It has several locations in the city, and probably needs many hands on volunteers. I had some indirect contact with it when I was interning in the Brooklyn DA's office a couple summers ago.

almost_frei said...

Look into Rachel's Place in Brooklyn. It is a home for battered and abused women and children from the frum community. The number is 718-253-5364.

Anonymous said...

I am the Young Leadership Director for the Jewish Federation in Northern NJ. If you are ineterested in working in the secular Jewish community feel free to shoot me an email at jonahh@ujannj.org and I can point you in the right direction.

Ezzie can vouch for me if you want to know more about me...

Anonymous said...

Chana--You can volunteer to get me breakfast in bed every morning...:) (duby ducking from flying projectiles...)

But seriously, I have been thinking about volunteering recently as well. I am curious (no pun intended) what you decide on. When you decide, please tell us!

Ayelet said...

Try calling Sloane Kettering or other pediatric oncology facilities.

Stubborn and Strong said...

I send your resume to my father and so you could to talk my father about children's program.

Anonymous said...

look at Areyvut, an organiztion that helps people volunteer. Daniel, the man who runs it is amazing. Get in touch with him and he can help you out