NEW YORK – New Yorkers responded after September 11, Hurricane Sandy, and now they are stepping up the fight against COVID-19.
However, Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares, says volunteering during a pandemic poses unique challenges.
“One of the encouraging things about the pandemic is that in the first four weeks about 13,000 people stepped up and said, ‘I want to help,’” he adds.
New York Cares typically deploys around 50,000 volunteers per year.
At least a third of these volunteers are older people who are themselves more prone to serious illness.
“We started a telephone banking system and that was after discussions with our partners across the city who realized that isolation and mental health were going to be big challenges during the pandemic,” Bagley told Fox 5. .
That’s why New York Cares has offered new volunteer opportunities like virtual yoga, story time, and citizenship preparation classes, all of which are facilitated via zoom.
Volunteers can also perform telephone health checks with seniors, veterans and families living in transitional housing.
“New Yorkers see no borders. We see a big city and it’s really important now that we get there the way we can, either physically or virtually, ”Bagley says.
Volunteers are also needed in the field, especially to distribute food to hard-hit communities in central Queens, east Brooklyn and the southern Bronx.
In the past eight months, New York Cares has delivered over twenty-two million meals to hungry New Yorkers.