Welcome, Five New Non-Profit Affiliates!
Drumroll, please: Hope for New York’s affiliate family has officially grown to 50 partners! That’s right, we recently added five new non-profit affiliates to our network—for a total of 50—and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only do we now have all five boroughs represented, but we’re partnering with organizations doing an incredible range of work citywide.
From ministry inside one of America’s most notorious prisons to a supportive residence for new mothers in a zip code with one of the highest rates of abortion, our newest affiliates are loving and serving our neighbors in their greatest moments of need.
We invite you to meet them and hear from them in their own words. Below, we asked the staff to share what it’s like to volunteer with them, what they want people to know, and how their organization is changing lives.
Serving communities in need in Chelsea and Harlem, including the elderly, families, and the homeless.
What can volunteers expect when serving with Dream Center NYC?
Volunteers can expect to work alongside a team of young people who have devoted a season of their lives to serving New York City. Also, a fun, life-giving environment at each of our sites and to be part of building something that will change New York City one life at a time.
What do you most want people to understand about Dream Center NYC?
We want people to know that we really find it a privilege and a joy to serve our neighbors. We don’t have to serve. We get to serve.
Can you share a story that resulted from the work of Dream Center NYC?
Our team began visiting a man named Tony in 2015 as part of our Residential Assistance program, which connects volunteers to predominantly elderly New Yorkers in need of weekly home visits. Our visits began with two full days of deep cleaning Tony’s apartment. He’d fallen into a depression after the death of his mother and hadn’t been able to accomplish most of the cleaning tasks around his house. For years, Tony struggled to get just three hours of sleep each night and spent whole days without seeing anyone. Tony’s loneliness and depression took a toll on his emotional and physical health, so after our first two visits with him we knew we had to keep coming back.
Volunteers began visiting Tony weekly, and the change in him was remarkable. He transformed from being a man struggling under the stress of loneliness in New York City to a man having a real encounter with Jesus. He began attending church and developing friendships with many people in our church family. Within weeks, he decided to give his life to Jesus. Nothing has been the same since.
Tony has begun sleeping through the night, not needing many of the medications that were once his only source of life. Tony is no longer experiencing depression, and he has stopped suffering from many of the physical ailments that accompanied his emotions. He has built a very special bond with the volunteers that visit him regularly, and in many ways he has become family. It was and is our privilege to serve Tony every week.
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Serving expectant women in the Bronx through a full-time residence and supportive programming.
What can volunteers expect when serving with Expect Hope?
Volunteers can expect to be touched by the lives of those they serve. Each time a volunteer cares for a baby born at Expect Hope, they will be reminded that this child’s life was spared by the grace of God. When volunteers teach life skills classes or host an event for our residents, they will witness the strength and courage of a single mother facing transitions and challenging goals. Mentors will form long-term relationships with these mothers and children, imparting life to them while being blessed and enriched by our residents’ lives. Volunteers can expect to be in on the ground floor of lives being rebuilt in truth, beauty, and hope.
What do you most want people to understand about Expect Hope?
I want people to understand that being pro-life means that we deeply value and care for the life of babies AND their mothers. These mamas are precious women coming out of unbelievably difficult circumstances who need our long-term support. In my experience, many women who abort their children know they are ending a life. They view their choice to terminate their pregnancies as sparing their child from a life of poverty, instability, bad parenting, fatherlessness, and hopelessness. Our mission is to be the alternative to that “last resort”—we can empower them to build strong, healthy families and thrive.
Can you share a story that illustrates why you wanted to start Expect Hope?
While volunteering as a peer counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, I encountered one woman after another who was overwhelmed, frightened, and out of options. They were pregnant, and boyfriends had either abandoned them or were pressuring them to have an abortion (or both). They had nowhere to live. Their families wouldn’t or couldn’t support them. They knew they were incapable of supporting their child by themselves. How could they continue school while having to work? Who would watch their child while they were at work?
As I flipped through the resource binder to find them a place to stay, it struck me that there were almost no places that offered support long enough for the women to build stable lives for their new families. It was then that the Lord began impressing on my heart with a new urgency the deep need for a place like Expect Hope.
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Serving men and women currently incarcerated on Rikers Island and those who are reentering their communities.
What can volunteers expect when serving with Prison Fellowship?
Volunteers with Prison Fellowship can expect to be thoroughly trained. After more than 40 years of working with prisoners and their families, we have extensive materials and expertise to help volunteers who have no previous prison experience know how to conduct themselves safely and effectively in a correctional environment. Volunteers can also expect to be supported. We try to put volunteers in co-facilitator relationships with other volunteers, so they’re never on their own. Over and over again, volunteers have also described their experiences as transformative. They interact directly with people who are eager for opportunities to learn and change, and they see restoration in action.
What do you most want people to understand about Prison Fellowship?
Founded by Chuck Colson, who served seven months in a federal prison camp, Prison Fellowship believes that all people are created in God’s image and that no life is beyond God’s reach. As Christians, we believe that Jesus—Himself brought to trial, executed, buried, and brought to life again—offers hope, healing, and a new purpose for each life. Through an amazing awakening to new hope and life purpose, those who once broke the law are transformed and mobilized to serve their neighbors, replacing the cycle of crime with a cycle of renewal.
Can you share an inspiring story that resulted from the work of Prison Fellowship?
The Prison Fellowship program at Rikers Island helps transform the lives of men like José Campos. José’s life was once controlled by his alcoholism. After getting a DWI, he was sentenced to a prison term of one-to-three years. In the dark, hostile environment of Rikers, he found Jesus—and Prison Fellowship. In the program, he says, “I was reborn. I saw the world differently—my family, my parents, my friends.” Through the Angel Tree® Christmas program, José’s son received a gift from him, and José was mentored by caring volunteers. Now, out of prison, José has been alcohol-free for three years. Despite the challenges of living with a criminal history, he has started his own roofing business and employs three other people. He and his family are regularly involved in church. “I will forever be in debt to this program for saving my life spiritually and introducing me to the truth, the road, and the life: Jesus Christ,” he says.
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Serving predominantly low-income communities throughout New York City by partnering with public schools for transformational change.
What can volunteers expect when serving with Thrive Collective?
Our volunteers empower students to create masterpiece lives as they beautify the world around them. Our collaborative teams embrace student-led public art as a vehicle for awareness, change, and wrap-around supports necessary for all NYC students and schools to thrive—without exception or condition.
What do you most want people to understand about Thrive Collective?
Thrive Collective seeks the peace and prosperity of our city, because if it thrives, we all thrive. We do this by restoring justice for the most vulnerable among us—the half-a-million children who live in poverty everyday and the 1.1 million who attend our public schools. Bring Art Back—and all of our programs—is about justice for 419 low-income schools and 250,000 of our most vulnerable students.
What is the best part about being involved with Thrive Collective?
The point for us is never a mural or film festival, a music recital or mentoring relationship. Those outputs simply confirm that our process works. The larger point—the "why" Thrive exists—is the hope and opportunity our programs create, which produce exponential impacts long after the programs end.
Take, for example, Victoria, a high school student from the Bronx. She shared part of her story in a short documentary about our work: "It's not every day where a kid like me, who came out of a one-bedroom apartment with six brothers and sisters, sitting down thinking she's not going to get anywhere—it's not everyday where someone like Jeremy is going to come up to me and be like, I have a special role for you, and I want you to take part of it.
"I thank God that I'm able to get this opportunity. And I think that He sent people like them to come to me and pick me up out of what I've been through."
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Serving at-risk youth on Staten Island through after-school programming, workforce development, and basketball.
What can volunteers expect when serving with Urban Hope?
They can expect to fall in love with our kids. They can expect to realize that their dedication can change the trajectory of a child’s or teen’s life. They can expect to be well directed and appreciated during their time of service and to discover sweet fellowship as they serve with a team that loves the Lord.
What do you most want people to understand about Urban Hope?
We are a Christ-centered, grassroots, community-based, face-to-face, relationship-centered ministry.
Can you share a story that resulted from the work of Urban Hope?
Across the street from the church is a young man who has been raised by his grandmother. His parents were both drug addicts and died very young. His grandmother is very hard on him, in a way bordering on emotional abuse. He began to sneak into our youth group because his grandmother, a strict Catholic, would not permit him to attend a Protestant church. He attended for several months and soaked in the Word of God like a sponge. His grandmother found out he was attending our church and put him on lockdown. From then on we only saw him sporadically.
We befriended his grandmother and worked on creative ways to stay connected. We would pray for him and minister to him whenever we saw him on the block. Then an opportunity opened up for us to hire him as an intern for the New Life Basketball League. Since it was a job opportunity, his grandmother agreed. We see the basketball league as another church service in our community. The gospel, prayer, discipleship, mentoring, leadership development, even educational and vocational opportunity are all woven into the fabric of the League. In a way, Mikey is now on staff in this new “church plant.”
As we minister in a predominately unchurched community, we are always seeking creative means to bring the full weight of a Christ-centered community into the culture we have been called to serve. Basketball, children’s activities, school partnerships, NYCHA outreach, youth groups...all are extensions of the beautiful Kingdom of God.