How HFNY Volunteers Stepped Up During the Pandemic
Nine affiliates gave special shout outs to Hope for New York volunteers for supporting their work and their communities during the pandemic's earliest days.
Our volunteers are vital to our mission to help all New Yorkers flourish, even during major crises. Read on for how volunteers really showed up and stepped up in the tough early months of the pandemic.
Do For One
"Volunteer S. signed up through HFNY to attend Do For One’s info session in September and immediately expressed interest in becoming an advocate to one socially isolated person in NYC. As Jane (our Program Coordinator) was getting to know Volunteer S., she shared that she had a family member who was blind, so it only felt right to introduce her to Partner E., a blind woman who happened to live within walking distance in the same neighborhood!
"Partner E. had been waiting for the right advocate to enter her life for years, someone who would enable her to spend time apart from her roommates with disabilities and her paid staff workers. Someone who could see and love her as an individual, and not be paid to do so. Someone who could expand her horizons of what is possible in life. The first time they both met, they unintentionally wore matching outfits! There was a natural chemistry between them, and their laughter lit up the surrounding neighborhood. As they walked arm-in-arm to the nearby Dunkin' Donuts to grab Partner E.'s favorite drink (a peppermint mocha), God’s presence and joy felt undeniably strong. After the initial meeting, Volunteer S. shared, 'I find myself with a lot of free time, and I want to use my time in a meaningful way for others and the Lord. I feel like this opportunity is an answer to my prayers.'"
"We were connected with a woman named Terrie through our partnership with Redeemer East Side, and she has served every single week since the spring at our Wagner Mobile Pantry in East Harlem. Terrie and two other volunteers hand deliver boxes of food to the same nine people every single week, and they are beginning to impact the lives of these families. We are grateful for Terrie and her team, for their consistency and willingness to serve in sunshine and snowfall.
"Tempest first began volunteering with us in September, and she has been serving when she can ever since. She heard about our volunteer opportunities through her church (Liberty Church) and fell in love with our work. We asked her what God has shown her through volunteering and she shared, 'I feel like God has shown me a lot about gratitude. I think sometimes we can be all about ourselves and it is nice to get outside of yourself. We should be thankful for what we have, but also that we are able to help others.' Volunteers like Tempest are vital to the work we do and we would not have been able to make any door-to-door toy deliveries without their support."
"Over the past year, amid pandemic uncertainties, Graffiti 2 has been blessed with volunteers coming through Hope for New York. These volunteers have been hands and feet in a time requiring love and compassion. Joe first came to serve with us in September 2020 for our 'Stop and Care' event that helps individuals struggling with addiction. We send people to canvas our neighborhood looking for individuals who might not be openly friendly or willing to start conversations. Joe's personality allows people to engage and talk with him and not feel judged. He welcomes the opportunity to pray with and encourage people as he serves. When serving with individuals like Joe, it is inspiring not only to those he is helping but also to those he is serving. Joe has faithfully served at every event we have offered since that first one. He has become more than a volunteer; he has become a friend."
"Joanna is a dedicated virtual tutor. The student she was paired with is strong in math but finds reading challenging. He also struggles with some social interactions. One afternoon, he was having a rough time and shut down until he heard that Joanna was on Zoom waiting for him. His attitude completely changed and he got right to work. Joanna has connected with him and is excited to send him books she thinks he will enjoy for their reading time."
City Relief (formerly New York City Relief)
"HFNY volunteers have offered vital support to our guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. HFNY volunteers made a personal investment during the crisis to show up week after week and help create consistent service on the street. Our Outreach Leaders were able to pivot based on the needs of our guests because of these trusted and dedicated volunteers who supported various services across the outreach. As they helped make our outreaches run smoothly, they blessed our staff tremendously in being able to think and move creatively during a time of unprecedented need in our city. From July through December 2020, City Relief had 36 HFNY individuals serve with us a total of 108 times.
"Jean shared, 'When I retired and relocated to New York six months ago, I was looking for some volunteer opportunities. City Relief has become my favorite place to volunteer. I am amazed that the people we serve are almost always grateful and often say thank you. In spite of their circumstances, they retain their humanity and appreciation. Many say God bless you and have a good day. One gentleman I served was in a suit. He said he was having a job interview later in the Bronx. In addition, the staff and volunteers welcomed me and are very personable with the people we serve. This opportunity has helped me appreciate all that I have and my desire to help those less fortunate."
Open Hands Legal Services
"We have had a few amazing volunteers this period. Volunteer A., who was new, has been great help with translation. She translated our whole presentation for the KYR seminar with The Open Door. And other translators, like Volunteer A. and Volunteer J., have been great. Also, Volunteer W. has provided a lot of sound, ethical wisdom, especially with a disgruntled client situation.
"HFNY volunteers have been incredibly helpful with their creativity and adaptability. A volunteer found Restore for the first time through Hope for New York. She and her two kids handmade 40 reusable cloth masks for the women we serve, offering 10 hours of her time to sew each mask. The masks were distributed to clients who came to our office when it reopened. In addition, several HFNY volunteers collected and donated winter coats throughout the last three months for survivors who could not afford coats. A HFNY volunteer, Christa, got connected with Restore in 2020 and served as a Resume and Interview Coach in our Spanish Supportive Services class. She also translated several documents from English to Spanish and provided live interpretation over zoom in various meetings. Christa’s exemplary service was so appreciated that Restore offered Christa a full-time role on our Economic Empowerment team as our Job Placement Specialist.
"Also, Restore’s ESL partner organization was unable to continue the partnership once the pandemic started, so several Restore clients were unable to complete their ESL course. April Tam Smith was a creative problem-solver and donated ESL materials so that clients could continue to learn English during the stay-at-home order. HFNY volunteers expanded our language capabilities and helped us serve more clients whose native language was Spanish. Bilingual HFNY volunteers joined our mission work during a time when our Supportive Services curriculum needed to be edited and adapted to meet the clients’ evolving needs. When we added a curriculum on time management and budgeting, as well as worker’s rights related to getting sick, all the documents had to be translated from English to Spanish. In addition to donating their time and talents, HFNY volunteers also donated resources, such as gently used laptops for clients in our Economic Empowerment program. HFNY volunteers helped us continue to serve clients effectively despite the impact of the pandemic."
Safe Families for Children
"We continue to be grateful for our HFNY volunteers. We had a large response of interested volunteers, either in attending a webinar or sharing about Safe Families by hanging flyers. Renaissance has been particularly engaged and we would also love to engage Wellspring Church."
The Father's Heart
"Rebecca has been an ESL tutor for several years. At the beginning of the pandemic, since we weren't able to have ESL on-site tutoring, she volunteered every week with us in the food pantry. Recently, she was able to connect to three former students and has been tutoring them remotely. She jumps in wherever and whenever needed; many times she arrives over an hour before all other volunteers and handles the volunteer check-in process for us.
"Aimee P., Barbara W., and Daniel H. have also served diligently and excellently throughout the pandemic. Aimee never missed a Saturday and has moved into a very vital role in our food pantry data in-take. Daniel has become a supervisor and his dedication to the Lord and to others is evident. Barbara is a joy to be around, as she is focused but always maintains a great sense of humor. They've all been consistent and stable, serving as an example to others and an encouragement to us."
The Open Door
"We have been so blessed by the HFNY volunteers who walk alongside out students! Specifically, Sonya was instrumental in planning the Christmas cards and food support for students during the holidays. It was her idea to also dip into Volunteer Impact Grant funds and provide each NY student with an Open Door mask. Further, Lindsey offered her help during each virtual volunteer training we provided for our volunteers since the start of the pandemic."
Thank you, Hope for New York volunteers, for serving our affiliates and our city's neighbors in need so faithfully!