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Ways to make friends: Volunteer projects

Do good and make friends at the same time with these New York City volunteer organizations, whether you’re interested in tutoring kids or rebuilding homes.

These service groups offer New Yorkers the chance to make friends, while helping to make the world a better place. Get involved, meet fellow creative types or chat while you ladle out soup for the homeless.

RECOMMENDED: 50 ways to make friends in NYC

Many Hopes

Founded in 2007 by a pair of ex-journalists, Many Hopes is dedicated to housing, educating and empowering orphaned girls in Kenya. In just a few years, the organization has built four homes in the coastal town of Mtwapa for 44 kids who had been living on the streets. The long-term goal: raising young women to be leaders who will help bring their country out of poverty. Participants who contribute $10 to $25 monthly—all of which directly supports Many Hopes’ initiatives—meet once a month, culminating in the yearly Breaking Ground fund-raising campaign. The organization also hosts get-togethers for local chapters and annual retreats,
and even takes three groups to Mtwapa each year. • Visit manyhopes.org or e-mail ny@manyhopes.org
for details.

“I’ve met a lot of my closer friends through Many Hopes. It’s a great way to get introduced to people in New York other than the bar scene.”—Kyle Thousand, 32, sports agent, Lower East Side


Behind Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, a whimsical shop for imaginative crime-fighting enthusiasts, you’ll find the New York chapter of this Dave Eggers–founded youth writing center. Run by both staff and volunteers, 826 is always on the lookout for new recruits; sign up to teach a workshop, assist kids with their homework, or help out in the store or with administrative duties. Fill out an application on the center’s website and you’ll be invited to an orientation, to determine where your skills can be best utilized. • 718-499-9884, 826nyc.org.

"It’s really nice to have access to a group of creative like minds.”—Kathryn Walton, architect and amateur screenwriter

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Park Slope

Occupy Sandy Recovery

The storm may have passed and the floodwaters receded, but the recovery from Hurricane Sandy isn’t even close to finished. This coalition between 350.org and Recovers.org is Occupy Wall Street’s contribution to community relief efforts; the democratic, grassroots initiative was able to provide aid in hard-hit areas before even FEMA arrived on the scene. Fill out a volunteer form online (you can register as an individual or as a group), then stop by one of OSR’s two Brooklyn nerve centers: the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew (520 Clinton Ave between Atlantic Ave and Fulton St, Clinton Hill) or St. Jacobi Church (5406 Fourth Ave at 54th St, Sunset Park). interoccupy.net/occupysandy.

“I coordinate hundreds of volunteers, and I get to see relationships form. It’s a really cool way for people to meet each other.”—Anna Lemler, 24; People’s Relief site coordinator; South Slope, Brooklyn

Photograph: Carolina Kroon


This city-government-run program allows New Yorkers to trade talents and services. You could teach someone guitar in exchange for getting your apartment painted, or shovel the snow off your neighbor’s sidewalk for gratis French lessons. If you simply want to give your time, that’s also an option. Kindergarten teacher Cassie Regan, for instance, swung a spade at an intergenerational community gardening project this summer. TimeBanks has sites in all five boroughs, with plans to add more next year. To get in on the action, fill out an online profile and application. Once you’ve been vetted and oriented, you’ll be able to browse connections and start swapping. • Call 866-244-6469 or visit nyc.gov/html/timebanks.

“The good thing about gardening is that when you’re there, you get to just chat with people.”—Cassie Regan, 24; kindergarten teacher; Woodhaven, Queens

Young Philanthropists at the Bowery Mission

Launched in 2008, this initiative from the venerable shelter brings together professionals in their twenties and thirties looking to make a difference in downtown Manhattan. Think of it as networking, only way more productive and valuable. In addition to throwing an annual summer fund-raiser, the Young Philanthropists organize projects and events to assist homeless people and at-risk youth, such as coat drives. The group’s latest effort is serving meals to the homeless community at the Bowery Mission in the East Village. • To join in, e-mail events@bowery.org. 212-684-2800, ext 152; bowery.org/donate/youngphilanthropists. Next event: January.