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Volunteer FAQ

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at The Bowery Mission. Here are some frequently asked questions and related answers about serving with us. You can also view our full set of volunteer guidelines.

  • Does The Bowery Mission need volunteers amidst COVID-19?

    We are so thankful for you and all our volunteers who make it possible for us to care for our most vulnerable neighbors. In a time when so many stay at home, we remember those who do not have a home. And in the midst of this crisis, The Bowery Mission is seeing an ever-increasing need.

    As The Bowery Mission cares for our most vulnerable neighbors in the face of COVID-19, we are supported by volunteers in activities adjusted for social distancing and safety.

    Volunteers must be healthy to serve. You should not volunteer if you or someone in your household:

    • Have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
    • Have experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms or gastrointestinal issues in the last 14 days (for a full list of symptoms click here.)
    • Have been in contact with a person diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
    • Have traveled outside the New York metro area within the last 14 days.

    What to Know About On-site Volunteering

    We are taking every measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of our staff, guests, and volunteers. However, due to the asymptomatic nature of many COVID-19 cases, and the community spread in NYC, please be aware that exposure to the virus is possible on-site. If you are comfortable volunteering on-site we us, we thank you!

    We have put in place important safety measures to limit meaningful exposure between individuals while on site. We ask that you help us maintain the following measures:

    • Keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible.
    • ALWAYS wear your mask, completely covering your mouth and nose.
    • Wash your hands regularly.
    • Do not make physical contact with anyone else.

    We thank our volunteers for their flexibility in this time! You can stay up to date on our COVID-19 response and program changes at bowery.org/covid19, and our volunteer activities at bowery.org/volunteer.

    In lieu of supporting us on-site, you can help in a few key ways:

    • Pray with us — For the safety and health of everyone in our Bowery Mission family and their loved ones, and the care of our vulnerable neighbors who are experiencing homelessness or other crises.
    • Support financially — Your gift will help us serve our vulnerable neighbors. Your generosity can help us with unexpected costs of supplies as we package meals to-go and clean our shelter and residential spaces. Give today at bowery.org/donate-covid19.
    • Send needed supplies — See details of specific supplies needed at bowery.org/donategoods.
    • Spread the word — Remind others how vulnerable those without a home are in this crisis — and the ways The Bowery Mission is responding. Share our @bowerymission social media posts, our conversation with The View’s Meghan McCain, or our video showing The Bowery Mission’s response to the coronavirus. You can also share this featured coverage from the Hope Cast podcast or visit our media page for the latest mentions of The Bowery Mission in the news.
  • Where is The Bowery Mission located?

    Along with our flagship site on Manhattan's Lower East Side, The Bowery Mission has a total of nine locations across New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania! Most volunteer opportunities are located in Manhattan or Newark, New Jersey. Please visit the Contact and Directions page for the addresses of our campuses.

    For the most up to date public transportation options, please visit mta.info and/or maps.google.com.

  • What should I wear to my volunteer service?

    Volunteers must arrive dressed appropriately for the work they will be performing. Our dress code exists to protect volunteer safety, follow safety standards, and show respect to our clients. Volunteers arriving dressed inappropriately may not take part in activities unless suitable accommodations can be made.

    Meal Service: Kitchen dress code is critical to ensure the safety of our volunteers as well as to preserve the quality of the food. Volunteers must wear:

    • Closed-toed shoes
    • Clothing that completely cover chest, shoulders, underarms, torso and knees
    • Hairnets (provided by The Bowery Mission) or a hat/cap (brought by the volunteer)
    • Gloves and aprons (provided by The Bowery Mission)

    Also note:

    • No bracelets, watches or dangly earrings
    • Long sleeves must be pushed above elbows while working with food
    • Clothing must not portray themes related to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex or violence

    Men’s and Women’s Residential Programs

    • Casual business attire is appropriate
    • Clothing must not portray themes related to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex or violence

    Children’s Programs

    • Casual attire is appropriate
    • Clothing should cover chest, shoulders, torso and thighs. Please avoid “sagging” pants
    • Clothing must not portray themes related to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex or violence
  • Can I take pictures during my volunteer service?

    With some important restrictions, volunteers are encouraged to take and share group or individual photos of themselves and their service!

    However, photography is not allowed in the kitchen at 227 Bowery and the Community Hope Resource Center (315 East 115th Street). Photos of our residents and/or guests are not allowed without express permission from Bowery Mission staff. In addition, photography is not allowed at any of our Women's Centers without express permission from staff. Please do not share pictures or names of individual residents or community members on social media.

    We LOVE sharing your experiences on social! Please share your pictures with us by tagging @bowerymission on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or by sending to [email protected]

  • What is the age requirement to volunteer at The Bowery Mission?

    All Volunteers must be 14 years of age or older. Volunteers between the ages of 14 and 17 must have a parent or legal guardian sign a waiver, provided by The Bowery Mission prior to serving. They must be accompanied at all times by a chaperone, with a ratio of one chaperone for every four minors. Chaperones are responsible for the safety of minors while on-site.

    Minor Release Waiver

  • What is your Code of Conduct?
  • Do you accept walk-in volunteers?

    No. To protect the safety of our volunteers and our community, we cannot accept walk-ins at any time. Please visit bowery.org/volunteer to learn more about and to register for volunteer opportunities!

  • How do I volunteer on Thanksgiving?

    Thanksgiving is the biggest volunteer day of the year at The Bowery Mission. We are incredibly grateful and fortunate to have so many enthusiastic volunteers from all over the city and the world!

    Due to social distancing regulations in New York City in response to COVID-19, we will be operating a modified Thanksgiving meal service, and we will not open volunteer opportunities to the public. Thank you for your understanding, and check back here in the fall of 2021!

  • Do you offer volunteer opportunities during other holidays?

    The Bowery Mission operates seven days a week, every single day of the year — and we have volunteer opportunities to match! However, please note that our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day opportunities often fill up MONTHS in advance. If you would like to volunteer during a holiday, please be sure to contact us a few months before.

    On holidays like Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, we typically need MORE volunteers than we have! Please inquire if you are interested in serving on these days — we would be grateful!

  • Can I do Community Service or Court Order Community Service at The Bowery Mission?

    Yes, we have opportunities available for court-ordered community service; however, we do not allow those with convictions pertaining to violent crimes or theft. If you are completing court-ordered community service, please be prepared to share your paperwork.

  • Will my group be able to eat some of the food we’ve helped prepare at The Bowery Mission?

    Lunch groups who commit 5 hours to preparing and serving the meal are welcome to take a break for lunch from 12:00-12:45. Volunteers are welcome to eat the food prepared at The Bowery Mission, bring their own food, or find a neighborhood spot! If you would like to eat the food from The Bowery Mission, please ask the chef during your service out of courtesy.

  • I'd like to volunteer, but cannot stay for an entire meal service. Can I leave early?

    We STRONGLY request that volunteers stay for the entire service as sudden departures can severely disrupt the meal. However, if you know you will have to leave early, please just let us know ahead of time so we can make arrangements with the chef!

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