One of the fastest ways to make a new place feel like home, I believe, is to get involved in the community. Volunteering is a great way to see parts of a new city you might not normally get to, and often a way to meet new people. When I first arrived in New York, someone suggested joining the Canadian Association in New York (CANY) when I arrived – as a good way to meet people who might be new to the city and have some common ground. Through them, I helped out with the Terry Fox Run in Central Park in early October. There are so many different organizations in New York, it can be overwhelming to know where to start as a person looking for volunteer opportunities!
A few weeks ago, I got a last minute from CANY looking for volunteers to help prepare meals at God’s Love We Deliver. I was free that day and decided to join. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the organization and assumed it was a food shelter. Regardless, I was happy to help out and meet new people. One I got there, I learned that God’s Love was a meal delivery service for those with severe illnesses. I was amazed when I learned more about the organization. Each way, they deliver 4,500 meals free of charge – thanks to a huge group of dedicated volunteers and donors. Because their clients’ illnesses may require food restrictions, many meals are tailored to individual needs. None of the food they use is donated food, all of it is bought with donations to ensure quality control. And they have never turned anyone away! I had a great time packaging over 1600 meals with a group of friendly people. The time honestly flew by, and it was nice to think about someone receiving the healthy food that we packed for them, and that it could help sustain them through illness.
On my way back home, I walked to the subway with two women who were volunteering that day through New York Cares, a platform I have never before heard of. I thought it was genius! The site links hundreds of charities in New York, posting their need for volunteers each day. You can sign up for whatever projects you want to, when you want you. And you can test of different charities too, learning which ones you would like to focus more of your attention on. As a newbie to the city, it’s great to have the guesswork taken out. In trying to find a sense of home, it’s a great feeling to help create a better community in a new place!