Winter 2003 Magazine Archive & SearchMuhlenberg Home

 

Plenty of ‘Cares’ in the world
BY SHERRY LYNN FAZIO ‘99

Since graduating from Muhlenberg in 1999, I feel like I’ve traveled the world. I haven’t actually seen many other countries, but my job and volunteer experiences have given me such an amazing education.

Some of my experiences have included painting a fire station in Harlem with other New Yorkers and tutoring in English a child who had recently moved here from Mexico, so that he could understand his teachers. I’ve had the incredibly moving experience of checking in families of victims at Ground Zero during the September 11 anniversary memorial services and chaperoning low-income kids on their first trip to Yankee Stadium. I have had the fulfillment of learning about so many different cultures, values and people simply by volunteering and organizing others to do so while working for CityCares affiliates.

I currently work at New York Cares, a non-profit volunteer organization and affiliate of CityCares, in the fundraising and development department as the senior development officer, and previously planned special events at Jersey Cares. My fundraising and event planning positions at volunteer organizations have made it very easy for me to find service opportunities and contribute to my community. From my positions at CityCares affiliates, though, I’ve been able to share with others that it’s just as easy for everyone to volunteer – regardless of where you work or what you do.

CityCares expands and supports an innovative alliance of volunteer organizations working to build community through service and civic engagement. CityCares organizations were formed in order to provide accessible volunteer opportunities for everyone – even the busy professional. CityCares affiliates, typically called “Cares” or “Hands On” organizations, provide service opportunities in 30 different cities throughout the United States, one affiliate in the Philippines and 13 partner organizations in the United Kingdom. CityCares affiliates hold annual serve-a-thons (raising money for your hours of volunteer service to the community similar to a walk-a-thon) in order to unite an entire city of volunteers to revitalize public schools, parks or other non-profit organizations.

On the morning of Saturday, October 19, 35 Muhlenberg alums arrived at Bryant Park for New York Cares Day, eager to improve a New York City public school. It was so wonderful to see faces that I hadn’t seen since graduation, but even more, it was exciting to see all the volunteers coming together to help others. It’s interesting to see the direction Muhlenberg alums have taken and that volunteering is a large part of their lives. I’m proud to work at New York Cares, and more specifically, in a field that enables people to help the community through fulfilling volunteer opportunities.

Since 1987, New York Cares has been New York City’s premier volunteering organization. It creates opportunities for tens of thousands of busy New Yorkers to give their time each year through fulfilling, flexibly scheduled volunteer projects. New York Cares responds to New York City’s most acute needs by reaching out to social service agencies, schools, homeless shelters and other deserving organizations, and mobilizing teams of volunteers to help with the work. Day in and day out, New York Cares volunteers take homeless kids to the library, feed the hungry, visit the ill and the elderly, clean up school buildings and parks, tutor public school students, provide coats to those who would go without and do so much more.

New York Cares provides an easy way to volunteer and was originally intended specifically for busy young professionals. Those individuals interested in volunteering were finding it challenging to seek out service opportunities while balancing everything else in life. New York Cares and the CityCares affiliates provide such a plethora of opportunities that are all organized by trained volunteers called team leaders, so anybody interested would just have to pick a project, contact the team leader and show up to volunteer. It’s as simple as a phone call or an e-mail.

Programs and projects, offered in all different areas of interests, include: reading bedtime stories to children in shelters, playing bingo with seniors, tutoring new citizens in English, rock climbing adventures with kids, chaperoning youngsters to aquariums and museums, helping the unemployed with their resumes and interviewing skills, serving meals to the homeless, cleaning up parks, just to name a few. Volunteers who aren’t interested in helping with “hands on” projects can remain “behind the scenes” as a team leader or serve on a committee to help plan fundraising events such as happy hours or help organize annual events such as Spring Clean Up Day or New York Cares Day.

Volunteer opportunities exist for everyone – it’s just a matter of finding what interests you. Even if there isn’t a CityCares affiliate in your area, local volunteer centers can direct you to an organization that enables people to volunteer easily. For more information on CityCares or New York Cares, please visit www.citycares.org or www.nycares.org.

 

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