Photo courtesy of Deed
I love the massive and diverse community we share in this city. While reflecting on this recently, as I often do when harsh New York winter turns into perfect New York spring, I was bitten by the volunteer bug and had a sudden urge to give back. I quickly learned that while volunteer opportunities in the five boroughs are endless, the task of finding the right one can be daunting. On top of that, finding something that fits into your schedule, especially if it?s unpredictable, is tough. Every forum and internet search was overwhelming, with unclear requirements and schedules for volunteers. A friend of mine suggested that I download the DEED app, and suddenly the obstacles disappeared.
When I downloaded the app, its appeal was immediately clear to me. It presents volunteer opportunities in a clear, concise, digestible way that?s perfect for any swipe-obsessed millennial. You can search for opportunities according to your schedule or location, and every task has a detailed description with requirements listed. Signing up to volunteer is as easy as one click, and the app organizes everything you?ve signed up for on a calendar that sends you reminders. Plans changed? You can cancel with another click. It basically eliminates any excuse one might have to not get out into the community and help out. It?s as easy as Tinder, but infinitely more rewarding.
While giving back to the city that I love was my main reason for seeking out a volunteer opportunity, the social aspect was a draw for me as well. New Yorkers constantly complain that it?s hard to meet people, and volunteering is a perfect way to meet like-minded individuals in a positive setting. I wanted to connect with others in an environment that wasn?t purely recreational or work-based, and DEED makes that simple. New users sign up through Facebook, and every user has a profile that they can personalize by writing a bio and linking to their Instagram. You can easily sign up with friends and share opportunities that you?re interested in on various social media platforms. Every listing shows who has already signed up, so you can even lurk your new potential friends before you even show up to volunteer.
Video courtesy of DEED
If you?re unsure of what type of program you want to help out with, there is a wide variety to choose from, including many projects that can utilize your specific skills. If you?re business minded, you can help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities prepare for the workforce or manage their personal finances with AHRC NYC. If you have a passion for art, The Bowery Arts Project always needs volunteers to help men struggling with addiction or homelessness express themselves through art. If nature is your thing, the app has environmental and gardening opportunities as well.
While I plan to hop around and try a few different things, I absolutely fell in love with the Pajama Program, which gifts children with pajamas and a brand new book of their choosing to give them into a comfortable ritual of getting cozy and reading every night. I had the pleasure of visiting their center in Midtown and reading to a child for an hour before helping her pick out a book to go home with (she picked a glitter covered Tinkerbell comic, which was a great choice). I have to say, it was the cutest, most hilarious hour that I?ve experienced in recent history.
Giving time and energy back to a community that gives me so much daily is a necessity at this point, and I know that many feel the same way but aren?t sure where to start. The DEED app offers a new approach to volunteering that makes it un-intimidating, fun, and easy to jump right into, which can only mean great things for our city.