Where can I help others for my own questionable mental health purposes?
October 14, 2011 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Where can I volunteer at a soup kitchen (or similar organization) in NYC *this weekend*, as a last-minute thing?

I had a really crappy day today. Actually, I've had a really crappy year, but today was the worst of the worst. I feel dejected and useless and worthless. So, it occurred to me that I could perhaps help myself feel more useful and worthwhile if I did something useful for others!

I want to volunteer somewhere this weekend, because my depression is rather immediate and intense and I need the urgent pick-me-up. I googled around, but only found organizations that require advance scheduling sign-ups, which really doesn't help my immediate need.

Know of anywhere in NYC where I can just jump into action this weekend and help others while reminding myself that I am in fact a useful, worthwhile human being with some sort of value to offer to the world?
posted by Eshkol to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most volunteer groups ask you to attend an orientation. NY Cares, One Brick, etc. Try searching on idealist.org.

However, it might make you feel better to check out opportunities and sign up for an orientation or activity next week or weekend. Often, just taking the action can help a lot.
posted by sweetkid at 6:42 PM on October 14, 2011

If you can't find a place to volunteer there are some other things you could do to help out:

You could make a ton of sandwiches and pass them out to homeless people. Add an apple and a bottle of water if you've got the funds.

You could walk around with a garbage bag and pick up litter. Making your area cleaner is very worthwhile.

You could go to an assissted living facility and ask which residents don't get many visitors. You could take a book of short stories and read to the residents or just sit and chat with them for awhile. I've found that's a great way to appreciate my own life and health.

You could spend the day doing random acts of kindness. Google that phrase and you'll get a ton of ideas.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:49 PM on October 14, 2011 [6 favorites]

You know what? You are wrong!

Back when I was you, I volunteered at God's Love We Deliver, regularly, and it was one of the BEST things I have ever done in my life.

It is pretty easy thing to sign up, go through their short food safety lesson, and start showing up.

Just do that. They are lovely. Make it a regular thing once per week. Until you are done.
posted by jbenben at 7:53 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: While NY Cares does require an orientation, many of the places that they send you to will always accept volunteers.

Doesn't hurt to show up at your nearest food bank/soup kitchen and ask if they need help. Many of these places are so in need of volunteers they will rarely, if ever turn you away. Check out this one; also this directory.

Also, though it may be too political or the wrong political leaning, I believe Occupy Wall Street needs help right now.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:23 PM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: FATHER'S HEART GO! TOMORROW MORNING! 8:30AM! I've volunteered there many times and if you go by yourself, you don't really need to sign up. Hopefully this post doesn't reach you too late.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2011

"Food Not Bombs--NYC serves vegan food in Tompkins Square Park, every Sunday around 3:30pm. We start cooking at 1:00pm and leave ABC No Rio around 3:00pm. Since funds are limited we rely heavily on donations of all sorts (food, plastic spoons and forks, paper and plastic cups/bowls, etc.)

To volunteer or make a donation, just stop by ABC No Rio after 1:00pm on Sunday--rain or shine."

posted by wowbobwow at 10:31 PM on October 14, 2011

Best answer: Holy Rood in Washington Heights has a Friday night soup kitchen--too late I'm reading this, but they're a pretty small and low-key, so I bet it would only take a phone call to set yourself up for next week.

להבדיל, the Village Temple serves on Saturdays and invites volunteers just to show up. During my vacation from Orthodoxy this may be just the thing...

St. Joseph's in the Village has a Saturday soup kitchen--I don't know much about them except from Google.

St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights has a rather large soup kitchen on Sunday...try to call first, as I'm not sure how it would be to just show up.

The Jewish Community Council of Washington Heights has a food pantry that is open to everyone and, indeed, serves mostly non-Jews. Call (212) 568-5450 to volunteer to assemble packages or otherwise help out. They are a little bit insular, but personally very friendly people, so don't be put off by their phone manner.

Good luck and more power to you! Happy New Year if it applies.
posted by skbw at 10:51 PM on October 14, 2011

One of the most enjoyable things I've done in the past five years was when the place I worked for had a bunch of balloons for some event and afterward no one seemed to know what to do with them so I took them to a street corner (this was on a college campus) and handed them out to people.

People kept asking me why I was doing it and I kept saying that I just had a bunch of balloons and that I felt like handing them out.

It was awesome.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:47 PM on October 15, 2011

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