It doesn’t matter what your age, volunteering is a way to foster a sense of purpose in your life and give something back to the community. If you’re an older adult and you’re looking for meaningful work opportunities, look no further!
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular volunteer experiences available throughout New York City. If you have some extra time to spare and you’re willing to volunteer, there are plenty of organizations in the city that would love to have your help!
The Importance of Volunteering as a Senior Citizen
When you volunteer as a senior citizen, you get involved in a community of like-minded individuals. While younger adults may not always have the time or resources to volunteer their time, seniors who get involved by volunteering can make positive changes that impact everyone around them.
Volunteering is not only beneficial for you, but it also helps those around you and it makes the world a better place. Without senior volunteers, many organizations wouldn’t be able to achieve their mission or even exist!
Meaningful Volunteer Opportunities in NYC
Here are 10 meaningful volunteer opportunities for NY residents.
The NYC Department for the Aging offers volunteer opportunities for the elderly population that caters to homebound older adults. To volunteer for this organization you must fulfill the following requirements:
● Pass a background check (Social Security number is required)
● Be over 21 years of age
● Exhibit patience and kindness toward older adults
● Be punctual, flexible, and dependable
● Maintain confidentiality
Volunteering with the NYC Department for the Aging could include:
- Friendly Visits
- Health Promotion
- Foster Grandparenting
- Health Insurance Counseling, Assistance, and Information
Becoming a volunteer is easy. Fill out the Volunteer Interest Form or contact the NYC Department for the Aging at 212-244-6469. As a volunteer for this organization, you will be working in various locations throughout the city.
The RSVP program through the Community Service Society is specifically designed to allow older adults age 55+ to give back to their community. They have partnered with hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the city to locate volunteer opportunities that are good for older adults. To be a part of RSVP, you must meet the following requirements:
● Be age 55 or over
● Be available to work in one of the 5 boroughs in NYC
● Willing to undergo a one-on-one interview to assess your schedule, interests, and abilities
● Ability to commit as many hours as possible (hours necessary vary depending on the volunteer opportunity)
Volunteer opportunities through RSVP at the Community Service Society may include the following assignments:
● Youth mentoring
● Adult healthcare education
● Be a part of the Financial Advocacy Program
● Soup kitchen volunteering
● Support, education, and other tasks at homeless shelters
● Friendly visits
● And more…
For older people who are interested in volunteering in healthcare, the NYC Health + Hospitals is a great place to start. They offer opportunities where volunteers are providing critical support and assistance as a part of the healthcare team in hospitals across NYC. Some of the activities that older volunteers may be a part of are:
● Personal patient services (reading letters aloud, writing letters, etc.)
● Escorting patients
● Tutoring young patients
● Playing with young children and babies
● Clerical and computer work
To be a part of the NYC Health + Hospitals volunteer team, applicants must be able to meet the following requirements:
● Able to commit between 3-6 hours per week over a term of 3-6 months
● Willing to undergo a training program related to the volunteer position (when applicable)
● Have received a physical exam in the past 12 months
● Have a PPD test for tuberculosis
● Have immunization for chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, and tetanus
● Be vaccinated against influenza each year
The NYC Health + Hospitals group works with various health institutions across NYC. You may choose to volunteer at a location in any of the 5 boroughs. Visit this link to view the contact details for the different affiliated hospitals.
GrowNYC is an organization dedicated to creating a greener, healthier, more beautiful New York City, one block at a time. Volunteers who sign up with this organization may be a part of any of the following activities:
● Greenmarket Participation
● Recycling Volunteer
● Grow to Learn Gardening Participation
● Support during other events in various capacities
● Provide mentoring and education to youth about positive environmental interaction and change
To be a part of the GrowNYC volunteer team, applicants must be able to meet the following requirements:
● Be 18 years of age or older (there is no age limit)
● Willing to attend an orientation before officially integrating with the volunteer team
GrowNYC has both ongoing and one-off volunteer opportunities available. You may sign-up by filling out the volunteer profile form on this page and then putting yourself on the list for one of their upcoming orientations. If you have other questions or need additional assistance with signing up to be a volunteer, call (212) 788-7900.
AARP’s Create the Good program organizes volunteer opportunities that involve seniors in various community projects across New York City. There are many opportunities available no matter your commitment level or location in the city.
While volunteers do not have to have any specific qualifications to view the opportunities listed on the AARP website, different non-profits and specific volunteer positions may require certain things. If you are in doubt about whether or not you qualify for a specific position, contact the volunteer director about that opportunity to inquire about the requirements.
Some of the opportunities available on the AARP website include:
● Volunteer Interpreter/Tour Guide
● Mentoring a High School Student
● Support underserved communities (minority groups, women, LGBT+, etc.)
● Food Delivery Person
● And much more…
Coming of Age NYC is an organization that supports the 50+ community of individuals in New York City. They provide support materials and programs for seniors as well as offering interactive, interesting, and engaging volunteer opportunities for this age group.
Requirements may vary depending on the opportunity as Coming of Age NYC collects opportunities from various non-profit organizations across the city. Different organizations usually have different requirements for participation.
Some of the volunteer opportunities available through Coming of Age NYC include:
● Friendly Visiting
● SCORE Mentor
● Arts and Crafts Instructor
● Clerical Assistant
The Edible Schoolyard NYC develops programs for schools and young people that teach children and teenagers how to grow their own food, cook, and interact respectfully and productively with the land around them. In order to qualify as a volunteer for the Edible Schoolyard project, you must fulfill the following requirements:
● Available to volunteer one or two weekdays every week during the school day for 3-5 months
● Willing to undergo a one-time, fingerprinted background check
● Able to work shifts of between 2.5 – 3 hours at a time
Some of the volunteer positions offered at Edible Schoolyard NYC include:
● Kitchen volunteers (volunteer in the kitchens and teach kids how to cook and prepare food)
● Garden volunteers (teach children how to plant, cultivate, grow, and harvest fresh foods while demonstrating positive behaviors and being a role model)
To learn more about the Edible Schoolyard volunteer program and to sign up, contact the organization at this link. All applicants will receive communication back, even if their application is not accepted. Positions are limited but previous applicants may be considered for future volunteer positions.
New York Cares has a network of over 1000 community partners (including non-profits and schools) across the New York City metropolitan area. They offer a diverse array of volunteer opportunities for individuals of all ages. Some of the volunteer opportunities available through this organization include the following:
● Pack and distribute groceries to families in need
● Park maintenance and beautification (involves gardening, trash pickup, and more)
● Meal delivery
● Tutoring young adults
All eligible volunteers must be over 18 years of age (there is no age limit). Each opportunity listed may have its own more specific requirements, so check in to make sure if you have any doubts.
To sign up with New York Cares, complete their online application form and then you can apply for volunteer jobs that interest you. Contact New York Cares at (212) 228-5000 or at [email protected] to learn more or ask questions.
NYC Service’s mission is to bring together New Yorkers from all walks of life in an effort to build, preserve, support, and improve the city and the people in it for the generations to come. Though their volunteer opportunities are not exclusively for seniors, there are many options available for older adults. Some of the volunteer opportunities available at NYC Service include:
● Brooklyn Lifelong Learning Volunteer (teach adults a course at Brooklyn College for the duration of a semester)
● Housing Works Literacy Volunteer
● Employment and life skills training for previously convicted adults or poor families
● LIFT Community Advocate
NYC Service does not set the requirements for volunteers who sign up through them. Each volunteer opportunity has a different set of requirements according to the nature of the opportunity. Contact the organizer of the opportunity you are interested in to clarify the details of an opportunity if needed.
Start by creating an account at NYC Service. After you create an account you will be able to view, save, and apply for volunteer opportunities through them. To contact them directly you may send them an email at [email protected]
AmeriCorps Seniors recognizes that seniors not only need support from their community, but that they also need to be able to return that support back to the community. AmeriCorps gives people of all ages, including seniors, rewarding volunteer opportunities. Some of the volunteer opportunities that may be available to seniors include:
● Foster Grandparenting
● Senior Companions
● Tutoring and Mentoring Youth
● Teaching English to Immigrants
● Home Renovation
● Neighborhood Watch Program Organization
To qualify for the AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer program you must:
● Be 55+ years old
● Be ready to commit at least a few hours each week (time commitment varies depending on project)
● Be willing to undergo training or additional educational programs when needed before undertaking a particular volunteer assignment.
To apply for AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer opportunities you must first create a profile. Afterwards, you may search and apply for opportunities that interest you most. Contact AmeriCorps directly at (800) 942-2766 (the phone number for the National Service Hotline).