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Health Volunteer
Illustration: Wayne Brezinka

Where to volunteer: Health



RECOMMENDED: Where to volunteer in NYC

NYU Langone Medical Center
The East Side institution regularly employs 1,000 volunteers to fill an array of positions, including acting as liaisons to patient visitors in the emergency department or post-anesthesia care unit. If you’re especially good with kids, you can also play with youngsters as a pediatric-patient recreation helper. The time commitment varies depending on the program, and students can earn school credit for their work. Either way, you’ll want to start the application process early—it can take from three to six weeks. 400 E 34th St at First Ave (212-263-6100,

New York Cares
The city’s largest volunteer organization runs programs for more than 1,200 nonprofits and public schools in every borough; among the diverse causes are at least a dozen health-and-wellness-specific opportunities throughout any given month. After attending a one-hour orientation, volunteers can search for “new projects” on the New York Cares website and sign up for those that best match their interests and availability. Programs range from doing crafts with residents of Rivington House—a Lower East Side facility for adults with HIV/AIDS—to serving breakfast to patients at Mount Sinai Medical Center. 214 W 29th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-228-5000,

St. Anthony Free Medical Clinic
This volunteer-run walk-in clinic provides gratis primary care to adults without health insurance. Dozens of patients from all five boroughs show up each Saturday (8am–noon);  some of the duties non–medically certified individuals can expect to perform include translating for Spanish-speaking patients and helping triage patients. All volunteers must submit a basic application and participate in one or more days of observation at the clinic, with some continued training. After that, there’s no enforced minimum commitment, but helpers are encouraged to spend at least one Saturday per month at the clinic. 421 E 155th St between Elton and Melrose Aves, Bronx (718-401-9705,

Medicare Rights Center
Since 1989, this national nonprofit has helped seniors and people with disabilities obtain access to Medicare. One major volunteer task is manning the national help line, which requires a four-day training stint and basic computer skills. Though people of all backgrounds are welcome to staff the phones, bilingual Spanish-English speakers are especially in demand. Other opportunities include assisting with administrative work, information technology, graphic design or marketing and communications materials at the office. Keep in mind: Shifts are a minimum two to four hours per week, but the time slots are only on weekdays. (800-333-4114,

The Family Center
Launched in 1998, the Family Center’s Buddy Program has paired more than 250 adult mentors with children ages 6 to 16 who have been affected by a family crisis or loss. Applicants interview in person with the organization’s staff and are expected to attend a daylong orientation before meeting their young buddies. Accepted volunteers must be willing to commit six to ten hours each month for a full year, but within that framework, they’re given the independence to plan their own mentee outings. In addition to the solo-scheduled events, the center sponsors free group activities, such as softball games in Central Park, museum trips and holiday parties. 315 W 36th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-766-4522,

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