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RECOMMENDED: Where to volunteer in NYC
Amnesty International USA
The world’s largest grassroots human-rights organization has more than 3 million activists in 150 countries, promoting global justice and freedom. The Nobel Peace Prize–winning nonprofit has one volunteer group in Brooklyn and three in Manhattan, and projects vary by chapter: For example, Upper West Siders focus on campaigns aimed at freeing people who have been imprisoned for exercising their civil rights (currently in Iran and Myanmar), while the midtown–East Side chapter is centered on children’s rights and working to end the death penalty. (The midtown headquarters also occasionally hosts panel discussions, screenings and special events related to its causes.) In Greenwich Village, volunteers collaborate with the midtown chapter on programs related to children’s rights (including child soldiers and sexual trafficking) and using art to draw attention to human-rights issues. 5 Penn Plaza between 31st and 33rd Sts (212-807-8400, amnestyusa.org)
New York Civil Liberties Union
With eight chapters in New York State—including one in NYC—this 60-year-old organization strives to build a more fair and equal society through community organizing, litigation, advocacy and public education. You can pitch in by attending a local meeting or joining an online advocacy campaign, which might involve lobbying and attending rallies. The NYCLU also offers workshops and training sessions on a variety of issues, such as learning about your rights, understanding how to interact with the police, protesting in NYC, and maintaining sexual health and privacy for teens. In the coming weeks, the group needs volunteers to participate in police monitoring related to Occupy Wall Street, such as taking notes on police activity and interacting with the non-violent protestors. One of their campaigns seeks to end discriminatory stop-and-frisk and related practices. 125 Broad St between South and Water Sts (212-607-3300, nyclu.org)
Human Rights First
Based in New York and Washington, D.C., this charity endeavors to bring democracy to countries across the globe and encourage the United States to fulfill its human rights obligations. For more than 30 years, it has protected refugees, fought discrimination, challenged crimes against humanity, held businesses accountable for human-rights violations and worked to end torture. Currently, Human Rights First is looking for volunteers for its Refugee Protection Project, which addresses issues of refugee orasylum detention on an advocacy basis. Legal assistants train volunteers to address questions from callers seeking political asylum and guide them through the application process. HRF also needs administrative support—which includes archiving files and various projects, and assisting with clerical duties—to ensure that the organization is running smoothly. 333 Seventh Ave between 28th and 29th Sts (212-845-5200, humanrightsfirst.org)