How to Make Your Year a Year of Impact

In the year 2021, everyone is looking for a fresh start. Joining the gym isn’t particularly an option this year (and, let’s be honest, it isn’t one that seems to stick even in the best of times), so we gathered up a few opportunities for self-improvement that are attainable and altruistic.

Focus your passions

If this Christmas was about shopping small, then the new year should be all about looking out for each other. Volunteering not only gives you the chance to do that, but it gives you that chance to chase your own personal passions in the process. Here is a selection of worthy organizations that can support your New Year’s passion project, no matter where your heart lies.

Arts

A Free Bird

Art can help save lives. A Free Bird is an organization that believes in the power of artistic expression, and their mission is to promote that artistic outlet in children who are battling cancer or chronic illness.

Brooklyn Music and Leadership Institute

If you’ve ever seen Drumline, you know marching bands can change lives. This organization aims to do just that for students in Brooklyn. Their marching band program has performed on Good Morning America and in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, bringing a true sense of pride to the students. On a deeper level, the program also helps to encourage and advocate healthy life choices–one that you can inspire by lending your time.

Education

Behind theBook

If you’re the type who’s spent quarantine diving into as many books as possible, bring that intellectual energy into the new year. Through Behind the Book, you can be part of the voice that brings the joys of reading to this young plugged-in generation. Normal events have been canceled, but you can email volunteer@behindthebook.org to see how you can still get involved in the efforts.

Brooklyn Book Bodega

While COVID pulled kids out of classrooms and kept us away from libraries, the Brooklyn Book Bodega has become an essential service. They’ve delivered over 30,000 books during the pandemic already, and continue to carry out their mission.

Not only are they continuing their distribution of books, but they’ve adjusted the program to also include the delivery of food and hygiene products to those who need it most, ensuring everyone has access to books during lockdown.

Homelesness

Back on my Feet

This organization supports the homeless getting back on their feet by hitting the street. Their normal processes are just that: joining the homeless in creating a healthy running habit and turning their lives around. While running in NYC might be on hold for the moment, you can donate to the efforts and help make a difference.

Backpacks For The Street

This organization’s name reveals their process: filling backpacks filled with essentials, like healthy snacks, first aid kits, and period products. Recently, masks and sanitizer have been added to the lineup so even our homeless neighbors get the resources necessary to stay safe during the pandemic. There are three easy (and COVID-safe ways) to get involved in the efforts. You can shop for some essentials that go into these distribution backpacks, donate to help fund items, or volunteer to be part of the distribution.

Hunger

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

Addressing food insecurity at home is the first step to ending a world-wide hunger crisis. This organization rescues excess food and reroutes it to hungry neighbors. If this cause speaks to you, learn about their COVID-era efforts and how you can contribute.

COVID Relief Volunteer opportunities

While the vaccine has come to be a warm and welcome sunrise on a long dark year, the pandemic is anything but over. Here are a few volunteer organizations you can get involved with in the new year to support the ongoing efforts to wipe out the virus in our community.

The Neighbor Network

A major side effect of the virus is loneliness. Since seniors are particularly susceptible to the virus, they can be some of our most isolated neighbors. This program calls on volunteers to help fight social isolation by connecting with our older neighbors to make connections, build relationships, and spark joy for those on both ends of the phone.

Kind NYC

It’s an indisputable fact that some communities are more heavily affected by COVID than others. This organization helps bridge the gap anyway they can. From providing meals to mental health support, Kind NYC calls on volunteers to help children push forward and come out of this tough time strong and well-equipped to chase their dreams.

RAP4BRONX

Based in their namesake borough, the Relief Access Program for the Bronx supports vulnerable and disadvantaged neighbors with what they need most. Your donation helps to fund groceries and essential supplies for the homeless, seniors, and first responders. Their partnerships with other organizations help reach out to as many people in the boogie down who need it.

NYC Test and Trace

You can donate to support health care heroes, and support the efforts to track, alert, and isolate those affected by COVID.

Improve Yourself, Improve the Community

If you’ve got goodness and your heart mixed with a bit of ambition, there are plenty of opportunities to improve yourself while spreading goodness.

One truly outstanding way to Improve yourself while helping others is to sign up for the volunteer ambulatory organization. This organization gives free access to ambulatory care for those in Fort Totten and the surrounding areas, all through the help of volunteers. As a volunteer, you’ll be tasked with taking the necessary steps to be ready for the role–lessons that can truly heighten your neighborly value in the community.

But your own personal self-improvement doesn’t have to be so demanding if it doesn’t speak to you. If you’ve got a passion for fashion, then you can link with the Sue Rock Originals Everyone Inc. This organization teaches you about textiles so that you can make wearable pieces of art in the name of helping women escape domestic abuse.

Resolve to do better

There are countless ways to have a fulfilling New Year’s resolution while being a good neighbor in a time when it’s needed most. Explore what you’re interested in or look around your community for inspiring ways you can lend a land. We’ll be here to help give you some guidance when you feel the call to action.

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