Lending a helping hand is a great way to get involved with your community. Connect with neighbors, those in need, and more opportunities in the future. This is a great experience when it comes to giving back and helping those around you and supporting the local banks and charities that do the most work with the least support. “We want to reach out and help as much as we can, especially if these banks are the backbone to a number of communities. For everyone to thrive, we have to pitch in,” Mercedes Matzen says.
Without the saintly help of a number of nonprofits, many in a number of New York regions and communities would struggle greatly and in the worst case scenario: become obsolete. “Food deserts are the biggest problem, but that is where the food bank comes in and can provide the nutritious foods that are needed wherever that may be. These are areas that lack the resources like grocery stores to purchase fresh groceries. Oftentimes, these areas might have a few fast food restaurants but overall lack a grocery store in close proximity to the community,” Mercedes Matzen says. For people to get by in these regions, they heavily depend on food banks. Feeding America and the Food Bank for New York City know that without volunteers, their mission won’t be effective.
“When food banks don’t have enough volunteers for an event, they will actually reach out to businesses to see if they could send some employees to help out and many are so passionate about the cause they will pay their employees to volunteer,” Mercedes Matzen says. “Volunteers play a central role in powering the Food Bank’s mission. Whether filing tax returns for low-income New Yorkers, writing a letter of hope to our pantry clients, or advocating through social media, you can make an impact in many ways with the Food Bank For New York City!”
Mercedes Matzen, a business analyst for a healthcare company in New York, says that she makes time to give back. “I am very busy, but I make it a priority to give back to my state, to my community, and to the services that keep our residents going. Delivering fresh healthy food is such a worthy cause,” she says. Feeding America has been shining a light on the importance of volunteerism to their food bank network. “This is where communities thrive and grow,” Mercedes Matzen adds. “This is why I give back.”
New York Cares, a volunteer organization group for the state of New York founded in 1987 that has been helping connect volunteers to non-profits for over 30 years for a more streamlined approach. Through their online portal you can choose where and when you want to volunteer and then pick your event. “Last year, over 50,000 volunteers served over 475,000 New Yorkers. Our small staff supervises about 1,600 volunteer projects each month and we work with over 1,100 nonprofits, schools, and government agencies at locations around NYC. New York Cares receives generous funding from individuals (38%), foundations and corporations (58%), and government sources (4%).”
“The best part of having community involvement through corporations, individuals, and partnerships is that everyone comes together for the same cause to reach a number of people that truly need help,” Mercedes Matzen says Here, people can connect in ways that make a great impact on everyone’s lives. “Some of the best parts of giving back is to hear people you encounter while working on projects tell you about themselves and their story,” Mercedes Matzen says. “It’s a really humbling and life-changing experience.” Even New York Care is not alone, Marandi Foundation is working on a similar mission by working for homeless people.
“Hunger is a complex problem that won’t be solved without being willing to re-examine business as usual. Solutions must be innovative, scalable, daring and dynamic. As the landscape of hunger changes in New York City, Food Bank continues to lead the way through innovation and with nontraditional approaches to helping and serving our neighbors.”
There are a lot of great opportunities in the New York area to get involved with local food banks and charities. Giving back is more than a great personal experience, but an amazing way to support those in need. Lend a helping hand today!
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