June 22, 2020
LONG ISLAND CITY, NY — It is no question the COVID-19 virus has put a bit of negative pressure on the general public about the possibilities of getting sick with COVID and potentially dying. There is no doubt that most individuals are feeling the vibration of this horrible virus in some way or another. Luckily, there are programs in place to combat these issues and they might be a lot easier than we thought they would be.
As of June 22, 2020, there have been approximately 217,000 cases of the COVID-19 virus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been giving city dwellers a daily update on current findings covering everything from protests to local medical findings related to COVID-19. Nightlife and restaurant organizations are still facing a huge downfall in revenue due to their doors remaining closed due to health concerns. He most notably sent a public warning to Manhattan and the Hamptons bars and restaurants, demanding they follow social distancing protocols as businesses start to reopen or else, they may risk losing their liquor licenses as the city enters phase two.
The healthcare industry is also under steady, immense pressure. We all know nurses, doctors, and other medical employees of every superpower nation have been working tirelessly to not only find a vaccine but simply tend to all of the patients who are mostly hooked up to a ventilator due to reasons they cannot clearly explain.
People are dying, but people are also surviving.
COVID-19 cases may be going down around the metro area, but unemployment is still very high and people have time on their hands. While we continue to order our food-to-go and go another week without a haircut, local volunteering efforts to provide aid to city dwellers directly impacted by the virus have remained in full effect. There are still thousands of New Yorkers lacking basic needs like food and regular human contact. New Yorkers came together in high volumes during this time of crisis to give back.
If you are looking for a way to help the community during these uncertain times, I’ve come up with a list of ways that anyone (without symptoms) can do to become involved in giving back to the community by joining forces with New York Cares, a New York City based non-profit organization. They are focused on volunteer management and were founded by a group of New York residents in 1987 who wanted to take action against social issues in New York City.
Their vision was founded on the idea that many people want to step up and help their neighbors, but they feel that the issues are just too big. “There’s nothing I can do to have a real impact.” New York Cares was started in 1987 to change that very belief.
What kinds of resources and energy go into making volunteering possible?
New York Cares addresses the real needs in the community and by doing that, they partner with organizations responsible for the well-being of said communities like the New York City Housing Authority and Citymeals on wheels to name a couple. By forging these relationships with these city leaders, they are able to connect volunteers with opportunities that match their personal passions and skills. Yearly annual reports are conducted to reflect, re-evaluate the impact of these volunteering programs and leave room for growth. For example, volunteer tax preparers helped file more than 15,000 returns for low-income families, and College Access programs provided 3,000 high school students with the tools they need to thrive in school. Volunteers also enabled hundreds of green card holders to complete their naturalization applications. Collectively, this work is having a meaningful and measurable impact, both on individual lives and entire communities. These high-impact programs, developed and implemented through engagement and collaboration with community partners, are just a small part they do. New York Cares helps to plan more than 1,600 projects each month where volunteers help individuals meet basic needs, revitalize public spaces, and increase access to educational resources and economic empowerment.
Why should I volunteer?
Admit it. We are all busy. Some of us are busier now than ever before. It may be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be vast. Volunteering is literally the act of helping people in immediate need. With our country so divided, it is time we reflect and think hard about the ways we are actually directly contributing to the improvements in our communities.
- Advance your career. Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training. For example, you could become an experienced crisis counselor while volunteering for a women’s shelter or a knowledgeable art historian while donating your time as a museum docent.
- Combat depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn allows you to become protected against depression. Volunteering with and for people, we relate to increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on similar, genuine interests—both of which have been shown to decrease depressive moods.
- Sense of Purpose. Feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment while staying physically and mentally active. Spending a day volunteering to brighten the lives of children in need by simply reading to them during the holidays and/or helping to distribute meals to homebound seniors get you moving and thinking at the same time.
- You can do it with your coworkers. New York Cares seems to have their stuff together when it comes to volunteering with a large group. They are the organization that companies of all sizes turn to when they want to create employee volunteer programs.
- Personality conflicts. A difference in personalities among volunteers is another cause of a potential workplace conflict. Volunteers come from different backgrounds and experiences, which play a huge role in how they interact in environments they’ve never been exposed to.
- Lack of compensation. Not being paid for your work can feel harsh if it doesn’t lead to some sort of monetary compensation. It’s also demotivating to be working for free while someone else in the organization doing a similar job is getting compensated.
- Depending on the nature of your volunteer work, volunteering could reduce your negotiating power on compensation if a prospective employer believes you’re willing to work for free or for less than what you are worth.
While our voice may be one of the millions, we can amplify our voices to be heard without having to scream our beliefs at people who already agree with us via digital hangouts like Twitter or Instagram. Organizations such as New York Cares seek to foster an environment fueled by compassion and kindness. Organizations such as New York Cares continue to exist because there is a present need for the community. In fact, we may need it more now than ever before.
By Veronica Mammina