It's been said that the pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people. As we look around in our communities, that statement is overwhelmingly true. But what's stuck out in particular, are all the heartwarming ways that our neighbors have been lifting each other up.
Especially since March, Brooklyn's been spreading the love with grassroots efforts like the 2,600-member North Brooklyn Civic Crowdsource community Facebook page, where neighbors can connect to help each other out with specific tasks, and the 350-person list volunteering their COVID-19 Support For Elderly and Immunocompromised in Brooklyn.
Now more than ever, people are stepping up to help each other out! (So, don't tell us New York is dead.)
Below is a list of community-led efforts, nonprofits, and organizations supporting the homes and streets of New York, either on the ground or virtually categorized by the following: Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Keeping Seniors Connected, #BlackLivesMatter, Defenders of Justice, and Mental Health + Support for the Homeless.
Neighbors Helping Out Neighbors
Mutual Aid NYC A multi-racial network of people and groups in the New York area that focuses on one of two actions: I need help, or I can give help.
In this community support system, neighbors can request or offer assistance to deliver groceries and/or medications for immunocompromised people, create phone trees to check on elderly neighbors, and so much more. The volunteer form is extensive with options.
Action Steps: Donate here.
If you need help, go here. If you can give help, go here.
New York Cares is a perfect example of the surge of volunteer efforts lately, with opportunities fulfilled almost as quickly as they are posted. As the city's largest volunteer network, it helps kids get into college, provides free tax preparation, organizes workplace volunteering campaigns, honors legacies, and the list goes on. This group also works with schools and other nonprofits.
Action Steps: Visit Ways to Volunteer and Ways to Donate
Keeping Seniors Connected
The Neighbor Network connects seniors with volunteers for regular phone calls during COVID-19. Volunteers are paired with seniors in Brooklyn for a virtual opportunity to offer them a sense of companionship, comfort, and joy.
Action Steps: Contact 914-573-5526 or firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about volunteer efforts.
SAGEConnect Similar to The Neighbor Network, SAGEConnect organizes for volunteers to make 15-minute phone calls to LGBT elders. The program includes training and a 6-week commitment of 1 call per week.
Action steps: Find out how to volunteer or take action here
Love for Our Elders A non-profit that believes no senior should feel alone. As a volunteer from anywhere in the world, you can write handwritten letters or create video messages for seniors across the world. To accomplish this, Love for the Elderly partners with assisted living locators to combat social isolation during COVID-19. According to the CDC, there is currently no associated risk that COVID-19 is spread through the mail.
Action Steps: Record a 30-second video message and tag #love4theelderly on Instagram. Your video will be sent to a senior to boost their spirits!
Black Lives Matter
The Audre Lorde Project A Brooklyn-based organization that advocates for LGBTSGNC and people of color communities and issues surrounding social and economic justice reform in New York City.
Named after the Black lesbian writer, feminist, and civil rights activist, this 16-year-old organization focuses on community mobilization, education, and capacity-building for wellness and social and economic justice.
Action steps: Give, become a member, or join as a board member.
Black Lives Matter of Greater NY While Black Lives Matter of NYC has separated from the BLM Global Network as an autonomous organization, the BLM of Greater NY chapter lives on. Their mission is to "liberate our people at all costs" by having a direct impact on policies affecting criminal justice, safety, education, jobs, and other issues.
Action steps:Attend an event, such as a rally, march, back-to-school drive, and youth activism. Purchase a t-shirt. Donate. Follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
NYC Black Mutual Fund An Instagram-based initiative "dedicated to building power to address the underlying institutions that continue to harm Black people during COVID-19."
Action steps: Stay informed and take action by following the fund's Instagram page.
Defenders of Justice
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund The New York State-chartered charitable bail fund has paid bail for nearly 5,000 New Yorkers who otherwise would have been sent to Rikers and secured them 750 years of freedom since 2015. The fund fights racism, inequality, and injustice of the criminal legal system in low-income communities.
Action steps: Donate.
Fill out this form to tell your mayor to #defundthepolice and #investincommunities and this one to tell elected officials to demand ICE to free our immigrant neighbors.
NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund A legal defense organization that fights for racial justice, including the gains and protections, won over the past 80 years of civil rights advocacy. The non-profit also works towards the diversification of judicial and executive appointments.
Action steps: Check out the events. Donate.
The Legal Aid Society The largest social justice law firm in NYC that over 140 years ago. Attorneys work with Pro Bono practices to defend their clients and "dismantle the hidden, systematic barriers that can prevent them from thriving."
Action steps: Take action through Pro Bono opportunities, campaigns, and donations.
ACLU of New York NYCLU is a nation's favorite for defending civil liberties and rights. The 160,000-member nonprofit focuses on issues such as voting, immigrant's rights, due process and justice, reproductive rights, racial issues, and LGBTQ rights.
Action steps: Urge legislators to pass the New York Voting Rights Act to ensure a fair vote. Other action steps for guarding against school budget cuts, protecting people in prison from coronavirus, and more.
Mental Health + Support for the Homeless
Vibrant Emotional Health (formerly the Mental Health Association of NYC) A mental health-focused organization that offers crisis tools, community service programs, and advocacy throughout the city. Its services benefit 2.5 million people every year through its National Suicide Prevention Hotline and NYC Well.
Action steps: Work for Vibrant, give, or attend events.
NYC Relief A local group with over 6,000 volunteers mobilized to connect with hurting and homeless populations. Its network works alongside clients to help provide emergency shelter, food, socks, ID, detox, unemployment, and emotional support.
Action steps: Volunteer or donate.
Step by step, we uplift our communities together. As they say, it takes a city.
If you're involved with a local nonprofit or organization with virtual volunteer opportunities, please share it with us at email@example.com.