The numbers don’t lie: Over the last year alone, Volunteer New York!, has inspired 35,000 volunteers and mobilized just shy of 400,000 hours of volunteer service throughout the Hudson Valley, initiating a virtuous cycle of continued funding from a range of private and public donors and expanding its infrastructural capacity. Not bad for an organization that started more than 70 years ago with just a handful of pioneering volunteers.
The central mission of Volunteer New York! — connecting aspiring volunteers with opportunities to support area nonprofits — has proven practically timeless, taking on new urgency amid a pandemic that surfaced a call for collective, selfless action. It’s why global-mobilization coalition Points of Light counts us among their affiliates. It’s also why local Corporate Champions like PepsiCo and Regeneron partner with Volunteer New York! to advance their goals of being good neighbors, creating and expanding effective employee volunteer programs and directly addressing community challenges. And it’s the reason we’re trusted by national government agencies like AmeriCorps Seniors to serve as the host of its RSVP program in Westchester that has been activating seniors and retirees for over 50 years, and why the City of New Rochelle reached out for help harnessing volunteer power when it was one of the country’s first Covid-outbreak epicenters — a relationship that remains productively in place.
The sheer scope of what Volunteer New York! accomplishes with a small staff of dedicated employees is easy to take for granted but easy enough to illustrate: On any given day, our website serves as a free-to-use, common-sense recruitment portal for nonprofits ranging from TRA, which provides transportation to the elderly and immobile, to the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which advocates for unaccompanied youth arriving from outside the U.S. And, in turn, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds have a one-stop shop to help figure out the volunteer work that is most meaningful to them. Meanwhile, our team fans out across the region as part of original programs like JRTV (Job Readiness Through Volunteering), an immersive course that helps put unemployed and disenfranchised persons back on track to gainful employment.
Not that this magnanimity is anything new for Volunteer New York! The Tarrytown-based nonprofit was founded in 1950 as the Volunteer Service Bureau of Westchester, and initially operated out of the White Plains YMCA on borrowed desks. Over the decades, it evolved into a dense network of backers, partners and contributors that included students, educators, elected officials, corporate executives and other nonprofits. What began as a relatively self-contained mission to encourage community engagement on its merits grew into a multifaceted organization that simultaneously turbocharged good deeds across the Hudson Valley and nurtured future leaders who would carry the core tenets of volunteerism into every room they moved through.
Strangely enough, Volunteer New York! wasn’t known by its now-familiar name until 2014. There was a stretch of time where it rebranded as the Volunteer Center of the United Way, but by the early 2010s, the Volunteer Center went its own way with a new name, the same mission and a heightened mandate to spread awareness of its accomplishments and generate financial backing.
Since its rechristening, Volunteer New York! has consistently defied the odds and combated the cynics with true aims and people power. From incubating and flourishing endeavors like RISE, which provides individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities ways to use volunteerism to help them develop skills needed for gainful employment, to training the next generation of Board members as part of its annual Nonprofit Board Boot Camp, Volunteer New York! has modeled what it means to effectively serve others.
Without Volunteer New York!, countless nonprofits would have struggled to find their footing throughout this pandemic, and countless more folks found their purpose in helping and healing. Our goal is, and for more than 72 years has always been, to prove that anyone can be an agent of change, and to animate it best we can. Because as challenging and confusing as our lives and times can be, a positive impact is within each of our grasps, and that’s an axiom that we are happy to volunteer.
For more information on how Volunteer New York! can help you or your organization–or vice versa–visit volunteernewyork.org, find us on social media @volunteernynow or email Communications & Outreach Manager Kenny Herzog at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read or leave a comment on this story...
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