This past Sunday, in honor of Good Deeds Day, several of us NYC-based fellows, along with some local ambassadors spent our morning volunteering with Citymeals on Wheels and delivering meals to housebound New Yorkers on the Upper West Side.
Despite the chilly temperatures and brutal winds, my overwhelming takeaway from the day really was of warmth and happiness, not only from spending time with other members of the Atlas Corps community but also because of the opportunity to give by the the NYC community and get to share some time, even if it was just a brief smile, with New Yorkers who I would otherwise never interact with.
In fact, for fellows looking to dive a little deeper into the community of their host city, I cannot recommend volunteering highly enough. There really isn’t a better way to feel like part of a community than giving back to those around you, and I’ve found that the people you meet and the relationships you form while volunteering are absolutely unique. Indeed, I think that’s part of what makes the fellow community so tight-knit – the fact that we as fellows are going through this year of service together and are brought together by our shared experience of giving of ourselves and our skills.
Apart from Citymeals, two other great organizations I love being a part of that I would highlight for other NYC fellows are New York Cares and Heights and Hills. NY Cares in particular is an amazing resource as they have projects every day of the week in every single borough and their projects focus on all sorts of things including working with kids, visiting the elderly, cleaning up parks, helping out at soup kitchens, taking care of animals as shelters, organizing libraries and cleaning up public parks.
Volunteering regularly has been one of the most rewarding parts of my time living in NYC and its something that has brought me closer to my neighbors and helped me feel like a part of this city in a way nothing else has. I can’t recommend volunteering enough and, since this week is National Volunteer Week, if you’re thinking of getting started with a volunteer project there’s no better time than now!