Where to volunteer: Homelessness



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The Bowery Mission

The Bowery Mission

The Doe Fund
This organization assists formerly homeless and incarcerated adults in becoming self-sufficient by helping them find permanent housing and gain skills needed to rejoin the workforce. Volunteers with hiring or professional experience can conduct mock interviews during two-hour sessions, after which you’ll provide feedback over a dinner prepared by the Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts Program participants. Those interested in a more regular commitment can work one-on-one with trainees for two hours a week to help them achieve their GEDs, or focus on career development and résumé building. (646-672-4236, doe.org)

The Bowery Mission
Supporting displaced New Yorkers since 1879, this group is one of the city’s longest-standing charities. The organization’s primary focus is its Bowery shelter, which houses a men’s residential program and a meal center. The latter is where assistance is needed most: Volunteering on a holiday like Thanksgiving is a no-brainer, but the Mission serves three meals a day, seven days a week; groups can sign up to prepare and serve lunch (4.5-hour shifts) and dinner (1.5-hour shifts) . Or lend a hand in the career center: You’ll spend an hour a week tutoring residents on reading and math skills and helping them study for vocational certifications. Handypersons with painting, electrical, plumbing or general contracting skills can spend time on the Mission’s renovation projects. (212-674-3456, bowery.org)

Women in Need
This agency focuses on New York’s most vulnerable homeless population: families. Regaining stability in their lives can require services beyond those provided by basic shelters, including drug and alcohol treatment programs, child-care and domestic violence counseling. To do your part, organize a group of friends or coworkers to teach a career-skills workshop, or work with kids at the after-school program for a day. Solo volunteers should attend one of Women in Need’s monthly informational sessions, where you can sign up for a three-month stint helping with a variety of tasks. (212-695-4758, women-in-need.org)

The Partnership for the Homeless
Established in 1982 to address the city’s growing homelessness epidemic, this nonprofit targets the issue’s root causes: poverty and lack of affordable housing. Though education and outreach programs form the charity’s core, the election year has prompted additional initiatives like voter-registration drives. If you’d rather stay apolitical, opt for a cleanup or planting session at the organization’s community garden in East New York. Additional upcoming opportunities include a music-education performance on May 12: Performers from the Charles Mingus Institute will jam with homeless and low-income youth, and you can request to usher, serve food or to assist the setup and cleaning crews. (212-645-3444, partnershipforthehomeless.org)

Coalition for the Homeless
This advocacy-based organization features 12 different programs catering to those in need—all of which rely on volunteers. The initiatives range from eviction protection to job training, but the most notable endeavor is the Grand Central Food Program. The mobile soup kitchen dispatches three vans every night to serve hot meals to nearly 900 people throughout Manhattan and the Bronx. As a volunteer, you’ll work for 2.5-hour shifts serving meals on one of the vans and distributing clothing and blanket donations along the way. (212-776-2000, coalitionforthehomeless.org)

Meet the executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless

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