From Ranks of Jobless, a Flood of Volunteers
New York Cares had double the number of volunteers this February as last, and a survey the group conducted showed that a third of them were unemployed. At one of two packed orientation sessions on Thursday, aspiring volunteers scribbled notes as they listened to Dennis Tseng, a cheerful 27-year-old, speak rapid-fire for nearly an hour about the nuts and bolts. The session, held adjacent to a cafe in Whole Foods, was so full that latecomers had to stand and lean against a wall.
“Right now, I could volunteer about five times a week,” said Emily Jimenez, 29, who lives on Staten Island and was laid off last month from the Milford Plaza hotel in Midtown. “If they’d want me to.”
Katherine Howie, an out-of-work lawyer, wrote “N/A currently” under employment information on the orientation forms. “I don’t mind making a commitment,” she said. “I’m happy to work with children, or sports, or recreation. I just want something to fill my time.”
Nini Duh, 29, was laid off from Lehman Brothers in September and now volunteers at any number of places — an elementary school, a finance workshop in Chinatown — nearly every day. It is a welcome change from her 100-hour weeks before her investment bank went bankrupt.
“Now I get to wake up when it’s light outside, and things start at 10 instead of 7 in the morning,” said Ms. Duh, who lives in Flushing, Queens. “Sometimes I think, ‘If this was my job, this would be nice.’ ”
God’s Love We Deliver, which provides food to the severely ill in their homes across New York City, has seen a record number of the recently laid-off among its 1,400-member volunteer corps, according to Karen Pearl, the organization’s president and chief executive. Among them is Eryka Teisch, who saw her job disappear when her financial technology firm downsized in September. God’s Love initially asked her for two hours a week.