Opportunities to Volunteer in Harlem – November 2020

Joan Grifith-Lee
November 12, 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 recently launched 74th Annual Appeal. 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

Arts & Minds: Provides art programming for people with dementia and their care partners. Learn more at www.artsandminds.org. This is an excellent position for anyone interested in community organizing, public health, social work, medicine, arts in health and anyone interested in making the world a better place.

ResponsibilitiesArts & Minds has recently increased the number of programs being offered. They are reaching out to expand their Harlem audience and need help researching Senior Centers, Churches and other houses of worship, and Housing development contacts across Harlem.  The volunteer will promote the work of Arts & Minds to community leaders and potential participants. This work can be done remotely at least initially, and later, when it is safe, in person.  Tasks may involve crafting effective emails, placing announcements in community outlets, developing social media networks, telephone outreach, etc.  Creative ideas are welcome!

Days and Times: Flexible schedule

Special skills or requirements: The successful candidate should have a warm, friendly demeanor that comes across in person and via telephone and email.  Excellent general communication skills and a passion for the well-being of older adults are required. 

Contact: Carolyn Halpin-Healy, 646-873-0712, [email protected].

Role: Program Volunteer; Communications & Social Media Volunteer; Development Volunteer; Volunteer to the Founder/Executive Director 

Responsibilities: Behind the Book seeks a Program Volunteer to assist with the design, implementation and administration of our school programs. The Program intern will work closely with the Director of Programming and the Program Coordinators to support all aspects of our school programs.

Days and Times: Any time on Monday through Friday, between 10:00am – 6:00pm

Special skills or requirements: Strong communication skills; excellent writing skills; attention to detail; love of literacy; available to work in the office occasionally. (Office staff must wear masks, socially distance, and use hand sanitizer.)

Contact: behindthebook.org, Tara DeWorsop by phone at 732-966-6747(cell) 212-222-3627 (office) or by email at [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: Senami Atinkpahoun 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: Volunteer for Preparing for the Thanksgiving Meal with Ping

Responsibilities: Three (3) to six (6) volunteers are needed to help with basic culinary tasks.

Days and Times: On Monday, November 16, Wednesday, November 18, Friday, November 20, and Monday, November 23, 2:00-5:00pm.

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

Contact: Email Timothy Wotring, Volunteer Coordinator

Role: Volunteer for Preparing for the Thanksgiving Meal with Chef

Responsibilities: Three (3) to five (5) volunteers are needed to help with basic culinary tasks. 

Days and Times: On Tuesday, November 17, Thursday, November 19, and Tuesday, November 24- 3:00-5:00pm. On Wednesday, November 25,12:00-7:00pm.

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

Contact: Email Timothy Wotring, Volunteer Coordinator

Role: Volunteer for Thanksgiving Meals

Responsibilities: Ten (10) to twelve (12) volunteers are needed to help with last-minute prep, serve and clean up. They are especially looking for volunteers who are able to carry items up some stairs.

Days and Times: On Thursday, November 26 from 10:00am to 3:00pm

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

Contact: Email Timothy Wotring, Volunteer Coordinator

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] 

Dances for a Variable Population (DVP), is a multi-generational dance company and educational organization, promoting strong and creative movement among adults of all ages and abilities, with a special focus on seniors.  

Role: Mailing Volunteer 

Responsibilities: Volunteers will help with the mailing process of our annual fundraising campaign in our office (127 West 127th Street, New York) with the tasks below:

  1. Enclose the appeal letter and seal the envelope.
  2. Sticking address labels and a stamp to each envelope

Days and Times: Tuesday, November 17, 9:30am-5:00pm; Wednesday, November 18, 9-5:00pm. Volunteers are welcome to join part of the two days or both of them. Deadline to complete the task is 5:00pm on November 18. 

Special skills or requirements: No special skills needed.

Contact: Email Yuan Lu, Operations Manager.

At Figure Skating in Harlem, they believe that the skills and lessons you learn on the ice can apply to everyday life outside of the rink. Their motto, “In life, like on ice, when I fall, I get back up!” is a powerful lesson their girls learn through the sport of figure skating. 

Role: On-Ice Program Volunteer at Figure Skating in Harlem 

Responsibilities: Figure Skating in Harlem is seeking an experienced skater to assist during the learn-to-skate group classes on weekday afternoons. This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with students and aid in shaping them into strong, independent individuals. The volunteer will assist instructors during on-ice activities, helping students who may need extra help during class. The learn-to-skate classes take place at Riverbank State Park.  

Days and Times: The volunteer will assist during the 2020-21 season beginning November 23rd, 2020 to April 1st, 2021. The volunteer may choose to work either Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00pm to 7:00pm or Monday and Wednesday 6:30pm to 7:30pm.  

Special skills or requirements: Volunteer must have a background in figure skating. Knowledge of skating skills are necessary in order to assist students during class. Experience working with children is a plus!  

Contact: Email Nathalie Borgella

Harlem4Kids Network, Inc (H4K) is dedicated to the enrichment of the Harlem community through empowering a supportive network of local families and uniting residents across diverse backgrounds. 

Role: Social Media/Website Manager

Responsibilities:  Update website; Start an Instagram account and add content; Update Facebook Page with new content.

Days and Times:  Flexible hours. Deadline for completion is December 31, 2020.

Special skills or requirements: Knowledge of Squarespace preferred. Familiarity with Instagram and Facebook platforms.

Contact: Email Amanda Fuller or call 917.774.5197

Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Inc. (HEAF), creates pathways to college and the professional world for nearly 600 New York City students from low-income backgrounds each year, by providing resources that help them achieve higher education, fulfilling careers, and greater lifetime earnings. HEAF is seeking 10-15 volunteers for each opportunity.

Role: Volunteers for Communication Styles and Workplace Communication Workshops

Responsibilities: Volunteers will work with 10th and 11th graders in small groups to identify their communication style. Volunteers will engage in discussion with students about the strengths and areas of growth connected to different communication styles and share insights from their own educational and professional experiences. Volunteers and students will also discuss solutions to “real world” workplace communication scenarios using prompts provided. All materials and talking points will be provided.

The goal of the workshop is to help students better understand the importance and relevance of effective professional written and verbal communication; provide students tips and examples that they can use and apply to their own writing and speaking styles in order to be professional and respectful; and, allow students time to practice their written and verbal communication skills.

Days and Times: Monday, November 23 from 5:30pm-6:30pm

Special skills or requirements: Strong communication skills.

Contact: Email Kelli Goodman

Role:  Volunteers for Professional Communication and Email Etiquette Workshops

Responsibilities: Volunteers will work with 10th and 11th grade students in small groups to practice their professional written and verbal communication skills; volunteers will provide feedback to students on how they can improve.  Materials, example scenarios and templates will be provided.

Days and Times: Monday, November 30 from 5:30pm-6:30pm

Special skills or requirements: Strong communication skills. 

Contact: Email Kelli Goodman

Harlem Stage celebrates and perpetuates the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American performing arts.  They provide opportunity and support for artists of color, and make performances easily accessible to all audiences.  They introduce children to the rich diversity, excitement and inspiration of the performing arts. 

Role: Programming Volunteer

Responsibilities: The Programming Volunteer is responsible for assisting the Director of Programming in all areas of programmatic activity at Harlem Stage. Conduct programmatic research for humanities events and community engagement initiatives; serve as programmatic administrative support; create, receive and process materials and information for internal and external presentations; maintain programming files, department calendars, logs, and contact sheets; provide logistical support for performances and audience engagement activities; (e.g. artist’s talks, humanities events, pre/post discussions); assist with activities as needed and devised according to schedule and goals.

The volunteer will also assist with correspondence and serve as administrative coordinator to schools and artists; maintain reservation log for The Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Arts Education Program; provide logistical support for Education Programs in-school and in the Gatehouse.

Days and Times: To be determined.

Special skills or requirements: Bachelor’s Degree desired and knowledge of the nonprofit performing arts sector; strong verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills; proficiency in Microsoft Office and Database Management; excellent customer service, time management, research, organizational, and creative problem solving skills; interest in arts administration and events management; self-starter with the ability to work creatively and independently; have a passion for the performing arts and work created by artists of color; ability to work in a fast paced environment; solution oriented, imaginative and progressive.

Contact: Please email a cover letter and resume to Director of Programming, Monique Martin.  No phone calls please.

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

NYC Kidsfest is a performing arts festival that is free to the public. Its mission is to enhance the lives of Morningside Heights and Harlem school children by exposing them to an eclectic line up of performing artists from The Studio Museum and Classical Theater of Harlem, among others.

Role: Producer’s Assistant

Responsibilities: The volunteer will have a variety of diverse tasks which will include: 

  1. Research sponsors and funders
  2. Manage Social Media 
  3. Liaise with local community boards and schools 
  4. Extend virtual community 
  5. Event Production

Days and Times: Days and hours are flexible. Director will coordinate with volunteer via zoom. 

Special skills or requirements: Volunteers should enjoy working with people and have good communication and writing skills.

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]

Role: Language Lab Volunteer

Responsibilities: Language Lab Volunteers are conversation partners for the ESL students. They help facilitate conversations with English Language learners in small, informal groups.  This helps students gain confidence and fluency as they learn English.  The conversation topics are about every day topics. 

Days and Times: Labs take place Monday through Friday for one and half hours.

Special skills or requirements: No special skills are needed. However, all volunteers must attend an orientation session.

Contact: Email Lynda Metmer

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: Email Gray Delmar, Program Director or call 212-439-9996

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:  Email Gray Delmar, Program Director or call 212-439-9996

Triple F Empowerment’s mission is to inspire, empower and encourage the young people of Harlem to pursue education and careers in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) fields.

Role: Remote Instruction Support Volunteer(s)

Responsibilities: The individual(s) will provide support during remote instruction sessions by joining video conferences and participating in the science activity.

Days and Times:  Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and/or Saturday afternoons from 2:30-5:00pm. One person can commit to all four days or multiple volunteers can work together to fill the position. 

Special skills or requirements: Volunteer (s) must be fluent in remote learning tools; Zoom and Google Meet. This position is ideal for someone interested in learning how youth programs are operated during this time of social distancing.

Contact: Email Stephanie E. Farmer