Friday 5 – What Your Hands Say

Hands, like their owners, come in all shapes and sizes. With their past and present written all over them, details like age, degree of hygiene, bad habits, and even fashion sense to the most important testaments of experiences like scars, and the work of a lifetime.  When you think about it, your hands do a lot of talking even before you open your mouth.  These days, we mostly hear about the work of hands of hate, violence, and greed.  Whether it be due to bombardment by media or apathy, it makes it difficult to realize just how many hands of help are all around.  If you’ve forgotten too, take a look around.  Here are some amazing, powerful hands right in New York to get you started!

          1.  The Samaritans of New York – Let’s talk about suicide.

Samaritans - cityBeginning with what you might call a depressing topic that deters most people from conversation, and perhaps readers of this Friday 5 article, some of you might be wondering what I was thinking.  Well, bringing this topic up is exactly what the Samaritans of New York is all about. Founded in 1983 as a part of the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network, this organization is free from a social, political, cultural, or religious affiliation and agenda, seeking only to provide emotional support and awareness about suicide and its prevention.  For starters, it is the only organization that provides a 24/7 anonymous and confidential suicide-prevention hotline in New York City.  Volunteers from all walks of life sustain this hotline by giving over 20 hours of their time each month, answering over 60,000 calls per year! In addition, this organization provides other services including free monthly support meetings for those who have lost a loved-one to suicide; consultations for educators, health professionals, social workers, corporations, law enforcement, and several government agencies; and a thorough Public Education Program, dispelling some serious Myths & Misconceptions. Check out their information booklet to learn more. Ready to be there when someone really may need you most?

          2.   New York for Companion Animals – Calling all animal lovers!

New Yorkers for Companion AnimalsWithout government funding, without a shelter facility, without a paid staff, the NYCA has found no reason not to continue rescuing, caring for, and finding loving homes for as many companion animals as it can.  It was founded by animal rights advocate and writer, Patty Adjamine, in 1994.  Working with Animal Control of New York, this organization rescues animals in all conditions from all over NYC. NYCA also takes care to screen all individuals who wish to adopt with the goal of finding companion animals, not a house, but a home.  This organization also  assures vaccination, testing, and spaying or neutering of all animals.  With the help of a small number of volunteers combined with funding from some private donors, Adjamine and her fellow volunteers seek to help over 60,000 animals that they receive each year.  Nonetheless, over 40,000 animals still end with no option other than euthanization.  This statistic, plus the fact that economic difficulties are causing even more turning-out of beloved companion animals, describes an urgent need for help.  To battle such fates, this organization has sought the help of more volunteers, primarily for temporary foster care, often allowing an individual to choose the animal.  If you are an animal lover waiting to make a difference, here is your chance.

          3.  The Seniors Corp – Wisdom is Power

Senior CorpsIn this day and age, people have access to a plethora of information.  One need simply to Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Dogpile any phrase of interest.  But even though knowledge is everywhere, it only goes so far.  Wisdom is needed to know how to use it but wisdom is not so easily obtained.  This is where the national organization, the Senior Corps, strives to make a difference.  Comprised of limited-income adults over the age of 55 this organization trains individuals to be volunteer mentors by sharing their wisdom and life experience with those in need.  Senior Corps was born in 1994 by President Clinton’s merging of three service programs: Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companions.  Foster Grandparents specifically targets children, youth, and young mothers by having volunteers serve not only as mentors and tutors, but also as extended family members.  Foster Grandparents serves profit and non-profit organizations, health centers, schools, and correctional facilities. RSVP, the largest American volunteer network for people over 55, seeks to tackles some of societies most serious issues, giving the volunteer the choice of how to help the community.  Senior Companions are volunteers that help with the care of seniors by helping out their families and relieving full-time caregivers.  Give a hand for those who prove everyday that one always has something to offer and the power to help.  Visit the website to learn more about Senior Corps in New York.

          4.  The International Rescue Committee – “From Harm to Home”

International Rescue CommitteeLife is comprised of decisions, some which one is prepared to make, and some that one never will be prepared for.  One such decision is to flee one’s home because of war or other disasters.  The IRC, founded in 1933, was developed in the hopes of providing support programs for refugees so as to help them repair their lives and give them a voice.   This organization takes care to provide furnished housing; rent assistance; health care; nutritional food; English classes; promotion of computer, job, and financial literacy; and social and legal services.  Specifically, it provides not only immediate assistance, but also the resources and support for transitioning into a new life in a new place.  Volunteering here is an eye-opening experience that definitely broadens one’s horizons.  Although a bit competitive, amazing opportunities to serve are being offered all year-round.  This summer, an exciting summer internship is being offered in the IRC headquarters in New York, New York.  If you are interested in a truly global experience and a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, considering applying!

           5.  The New York Writers’ Coalition – “Everyone has a Story. Everyone has a voice.”

Spring-Fever_CC-ImageAs a community writing organization founded in 2002, NYWC has showed an amazing drive to make the unsaid said and the unheard heard in the community.  Not only does this organization promote worthwhile causes and unheard voices through its online literary journal, Dig Deep; social justice and arts blog, The Narrator ; and serve as an outlet to the unique voices all over the web but it also goes out and serves the community.  Each year, NYWC holds various community events like the annual Write-A-Thon, and annual literary festival, which promote literacy and encourage others to write and find their voice. The NYWC continues to strive to serve all those who have been historically deprived of a voice in our society including, seniors, the disabled, incarcerated individuals, the LBGTQ community, bilingual individuals, veterans, children, at-risk-youth, by hosting workshops throughout NYC.  Have a passion for writing, promoting a society of discussion and social justice?  Consider volunteering for the New York Writers’ Coalition!

I hope that these amazing groups and people have inspired you to use the power of your hands to continue to do good.  Never forget that you always have something to offer, and there is always something you can do to improve the world around you.