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Volunteer abroad, Gap year in New York City

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What is a volunteer job

Volunteer service contributes to the well-being of an individual or the community, and is usually coordinated by a non-profit or public sector organization, and usually it does not pay any salary or wage. However, there are programs where volunteers (especially for international programs) in which accommodation, meals, flights, and sometimes a small amount of money is provided.

Volunteering in the USA

In the United States, there are many short-term or one-time volunteer opportunities. Coat drives, food drives, and special events take place that need people to help only for the length of the event. This kind of volunteering is usually fairly informal with helpers filling out a simple registration and then just pitching in. Accommodations and meals are not typically covered in these situations.

There are many different opportunities to volunteer within the city and just outside in greater New York State:

  • City Year is a 10-month program for 17-24 year olds to work in a service teams of 6-12 members. The volunteers work as tutors, mentors, and role models to improve schools and neighborhoods. City Year has 17 locations with some of the most popular, like New York City, filling up quickly. There are four times throughout the year to apply, and applications are submitted on-line at
  • New York Cares offers a multitude of different volunteering possibilities on any given day. Spend an afternoon at a local shelter or soup kitchen, devote some time to working with underprivileged children, get involved with a community revitalization project, or have Sunday breakfast with a senior battling Alzheimer's disease. Their site,, has an easy to use membership website in which to sign-up and follow upcoming events.
  • Volunteer NYC is officially sponsored by the city and has a plethora of opportunities for children, adults, and businesses. Their website lists events for every month as well as long-term positions. To search through listings or apply, go to the volunteer center at
  • New York City Wildlife is a program that takes Earthwatch volunteers and trains them on site sample wildlife and habitat quality. Projects like tracking mammals, catching frogs and salamanders in nets or pitfall traps, taking water samples, identifying birds, and surveying native and invasive plant species are all underway during different parts of the year. Volunteers must be over 18 years old and pay program fees of $700 - $3,000 for a 1 to 3 week research expedition (not including airfare,
  • mandatory medical evacuation insurance, passport and/or visa fees). To sign-up, go to
  • Lattitude Global Volunteering is a not-for-profit organization which offers voluntary work placements overseas for 17-25 year-olds, in a transition year before going on to further education, training or employment. Lattitude's goal is to have a positive impact on the communities in which they volunteer. There are several different areas of interest including medical, environmental, schools, and community development. Depending on your country of residence and the project you are interested in,
  • costs and time away vary, but there are several scholarship programs. Flights and accommodation are usually included. Apply on-line at

For more opportunities, try these volunteer searches and lists:

You will find more information on summer jobs, holiday jobs or internship abroad in our other articles on the left column of this page. You will find also details on visa and health insurance in those sections.

Update 2/01/2009


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