Opportunities to Volunteer in Harlem - August 2020

August 18, 2020

Columbia Community Service (CCS) is an initiative supported by Columbia, Barnard College, and Teachers College that engages the University's communities to strengthen organizations that are serving the needs of individuals and families living in Harlem and Morningside Heights. Recently CCS awarded over $200,000 in funding to local organizations and continues to fundraise and provide funding through the CCS Food Relief Project, a part of the Columbia Neighbors Food Relief Fund. CCS grantees have seen increased demand for services fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and have an urgent need for volunteers to help meet the demand. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Advancing the Community of Tomorrow (ACT), formerly known as Adults and Children in Trust, provides a safe haven for children (toddlers to teens) from many faiths, cultures and economic backgrounds to gather, learn, play and grow. 

Role:  Reorganizing ACT Supply Center

Responsibilities: Help is needed to reorganize and categorize camp, office and program supplies.

Days and Times: Fridays or Saturdays between 10am-3pm

Special skills or requirements: Volunteers must be able to move small and large items, work in a team, and be organized.

Contact: Marie Del Tejo, Executive Director at 917-310-4498 or [email protected]

The mission of the Bloomingdale School of Music is to provide open and continuous access to high-quality music education, regardless of economic status, ability level, ethnicity, or religious affiliation.

Role: Communications and Outreach for Bloomingdale School of Music Fall Semester 

Responsibilities: Provide support with promoting a remote Fall semester (classes and lessons) to current and new audiences.  Tasks will include press release writing, contacting media outlets and local businesses; research and outreach to potential partner organizations and audiences (i.e. local assisted living facilities, senior centers, youth organizations, etc.); distribution of flyers in the community.  Additional tasks may include production of short videos on Fall activities, as needed.   

Days and Times: Open days and hours during the first three weeks of September 

Special skills or requirements: Good written and oral communication skills 

Contact: Helene Blieberg, Interim Executive Director at [email protected]

Role:  Translation of Bloomingdale School of Music Enrollment Materials

Responsibilities: Translation in Spanish and possibly Chinese of BSM Fall Enrollment materials, including course descriptions and enrollment forms.

Days and Times:  Open schedule; work is needed ASAP.

Special skills or requirements: Facility with conversational translations

Contact: Lohengrin Velasquez, Director of Student Services at [email protected]

Role: On-site instrument cataloguing and storage clean-up for Bloomingdale School of Music

Responsibilities: Work with Events Manager to complete instrument cataloging of Violin and Guitar closets; rearrange the 3rd and 4th floor closets to free up space for increased cleaning/sanitation for reopening later in the calendar year.

Days and Times: To be coordinated with Events Manager; work will take place in mid-Fall.

Special skills or requirements: Good organizational skills.

Contact: Ling Lopez, Events Manager at [email protected]

Broadway Community gathers around an open table, believing that the feast of justice, dignity, health and wholeness is for all people, especially in Morningside Heights​.

Role: Soup Kitchen Volunteer

Responsibilites: Help needed to prepare and serve lunch; prepare to-go bagged lunches that are handed out to guests.

Days and Times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30am - 2:00pm (can be partial hours or full hours).

Special skills or requirements: No special skills but volunteers must wear closed-toed shoes. Face masks are required.

Contact: Timothy Wotring, Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected] 

Courtney’s Stars of Tomorrow is an arts conduit committed to promoting and presenting classical musicians of the highest caliber, and is a vehicle to feature them in concert, recital, and opera.

Role: Social Media Content Poster

Responsibilities: View and assess approved social media content; organize content and strategically post content across social media platforms; create a social media posting calendar that includes all of the content for both Courtney’s Stars of Tomorrow and The Whole Review.

Days and Times: Social media posts are required three times per week. Volunteer schedule is flexible. Content has already been created for social sharing but additional ideas are welcomed.  

Special skills or requirements: Experience with posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Strong organizational skills; Basic knowledge of classical music & opera (a plus)

Contact: Courtney Carey, Artistic Director at [email protected]

LiLY is helping to change the tide for frail elders, many living alone, who often face dire challenges when families aren’t available. 

Role: Virtual Friendly Visitor

Responsibilities: Help is needed to call homebound seniors.

Days and Times: Flexible schedule

Special skills or requirements: Technology skills are helpful as many seniors are struggling to use a smartphone, Zoom, FaceTime, etc. Seniors can benefit from technical support over the phone. Spanish speaking is also helpful as some seniors are monolingual.

Contact: Paula Seefeldt, Program Director at [email protected] or 646-734-0182

Purple Circle is an early childhood program that provides a quality educational experience within a nurturing environment that links families and educators in a community of natural learning and care.

Role: Grant Writer

Responsibilities: Volunteer needed as soon as possible to prepare grant proposals and support director in letter of inquiry.

Days and Times: Flexible schedule

Special skills or requirements: Experience with writing grant applications and proposals for not-for profits.

Contact: Elaine Karas, Executive Director at [email protected] or Laurie Kalinowski, Business Manager at [email protected]

The mission of SNACK* (Special Needs Activity Center for Kids and *Adults) is to fill a void for those affected with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and similar disabilities, ages 3-21, by providing unique after- school and weekend programs designed and staffed to address their needs. 

Role: Marketing Volunteer


  1. Develop survey questions by creating specific/strategic answer choices for effective analysis; compile and analyze responses; create overview of results; offer recommendations from survey feedback
  2. Blogs: Write blogs (guidance provided); post on website and social media platforms
  3. Virtual Classes: Create marketing ads to promote virtual classes that can be shared when doing outreach to schools, families and supporters.

Days and Times: Flexible schedule based upon availability

Special skills and requirements: Marketing experience a plus

Contact:  Gray Delmar, Program Director at 212-439-9996 or [email protected]

Role: Virtual Peer Mentor for Young Adults with Special Needs

Responsibilities:  Young adults are needed to help facilitate social interactions and build friendships with our population of teens and adults with developmental delays. Must participate as a positive peer role model in virtual art, music, yoga, dance, and exercise classes. 

Days and Times: Classes are currently held each hour on weekdays from 10:00 am-3:00 pm, and run for approximately 45 minutes each. Applicants must be available to participate in at least 2 classes per week.

Special skills or requirements: Basic knowledge of Zoom video conferencing and access to a computer, phone, or tablet is required.

Contact:  Gray Delmar, Program Director at 212-439-9996 or [email protected]

The Harlem Wellness Center provides health programming in communities that are consequently most vulnerable to adult onset diseases (diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease) that are preventable by lifestyle choices.

Role: Volunteer Coordinator

Responsibilities: Co-create strategic plan with Harlem Wellness Center Executive Director; manage projects, schedules and deadlines (track volunteer work); recruit and vet volunteers using various pathways; assign volunteers to roles with consideration for optimal skills utilization; collect, organize and file information on qualifications and skills; onboard volunteers; communicate with volunteers and E.D.; build healthy work culture; evaluate volunteers work; give constructive feedback; provide recommendation letter content to E.D.

Days and Times: Volunteer can create schedule but must commit up to five hours per month 

Special skills or requirements: Previous volunteer experience is preferred

Contact: Vivian Williams-Kurutz, Director at [email protected]

The Meeting House envisions an innovative approach to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for children that offers a rich program mix of activities, guided by professionals and peer mentors. 

Role: Peer Role Model

Responsibilities: Volunteers ages 16 and up needed to be peer role models at weekly outdoor Central Park program.

Days and Times: 10:30-1:00 pm on Thursdays starting August 20, 2020

Special skills or requirements: Proof of a negative COVID test required. Experience working with 7-12-year-old-children a plus.  Looking for highly responsible volunteers who love working with kids, display good social skills and bring positive energy to a group dynamic.

Contact: Paula Resnick, Founder/Executive Director; Call (212) 355-1908 or (646) 248-0957

The Reading Team is dedicated to enabling young children who are at high risk of reading failure to become strong and enthusiastic readers, writers, listeners, and speakers, and to develop the skills, habits, and behaviors that will support their success in school and in life.

Role: Reading Team Classroom Prep

Responsibilities: The Reading Team helps children PreK through Fifth grade in Harlem become strong readers and writers. Because of social-distancing guidelines, classroom space on West 125th Street needs to be reconfigured to de-densify classrooms for the fall. 2-3 volunteers are needed to work on site with 1-2 Reading Team employees to move tables, chairs, rolling partitions and other classroom supplies and to help sort and move bookshelves to adjust classroom space. Work is done in an open-plan space and air-conditioned. Face masks are required at all times. 

Days and Times: Select three hours in the morning of September 7, 8, or 9.

Special skills or requirements: Ability to do hands-on, physical work that involves lifting approximately 40lbs repeatedly. 

Contact:  Dana Points at [email protected] to volunteer for this project. Please share availability by using this Doodle poll