The Ultimate Spring Volunteer Guide

As students of St. John’s University, we are founded on core values instilled with respect and excellence. One of the most important core values of the Vincentian tradition is the, “obligation and commitment to service.”

Each year over 100,000 New Yorkers experience homelessness according to the Coalition for the Homeless. Students have the opportunity to become engaged and strive toward an end to this crisis, through a surplus of volunteer opportunities. Through NYC Service, students are able to browse a large list of volunteer opportunities, available in all five boroughs of the city.

Volunteers may select their field of volunteer work; many are available in hospitals, libraries, schools, gardens and community houses. Queens Library has acquired over 1100 volunteers, who tutor adults and work through ESOL programs to encourage literacy, according to their website. The requirements include, but are not limited to, a high school diploma and a three month commitment to the program.

New York Hospital Queens, located conveniently in Flushing, is always looking for volunteers to assist hospital staff and patients alike. An array of opportunities are available for college students including Child Life, focusing on art therapy geared toward pediatric patients. Their website offers detailed information on their programs including a Musician Program, entertaining patients bedside with portable instruments. For pre-med students of St. John’s, the hospital grants volunteers the opportunity to work as surgical liaisons and work in areas of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

These programs are more competitive and applications, interview, medical clearance, and orientation are required. Through the organization New York Cares, volunteers are able to participate in a 45-minute orientation and then search extensive databases for opportunities. Their projects range from helping homeless children obtain their first library cards to playing sports with children who lack access to recreational facilities, according to their website.For spring, children’s recreational opportunities are available, and volunteers are strongly needed.

Have a green thumb? Queens Botanical Garden is in need of volunteers, an excellent way to contribute to the immediate community and promote environmental conservation. Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 1:00pm, gardeners are welcome to work on the garden, only asked to bring clippers and gardening gloves. Greeters are also needed for”welcoming visitors to the Garden, enhancing the Queens Botanical Garden experience.” Prefer working with children? The Children’s Garden is the place for you, “supervising children ages 5-12 as they grow and harvest fruits and vegetables.”

If you’re looking to take the athletic route, Harlem RBI may be the route for you. This is a non-profit organization located in East Harlem, currently searching for volunteer coaches, with requirements including a full-season commitment and an interest in working with the youth.     

Their organization aims to “provide inner-city youth with opportunities to Play, Learn and Grow and recognize their potential and dreams.” The organization was recently awarded $1 million by Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira in hopes of promoting their standards of respect, diversity, promise, effort and integrity.

To promote the Vincentian values of St. John’s University and participate in a cause greater than yourself, become a volunteer. Work with friends or strangers in an effort to end poverty, homelessness, disease and defeat indifference.