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Volunteer Guidelines and Code of Conduct

Volunteers at The Bowery Mission

Our Goal

The Bowery Mission aims to be the most effective provider of compassionate care and life transformation for the homeless, hungry and poor in New York City. With the help of thousands of volunteers each year, we are able to work towards that goal every day.

Age Restrictions

Until further notice, all volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. No exceptions.

Dress Code

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


  • Volunteers are encouraged to maintain a high standard of integrity and professionalism when relating with community members* (as defined below).
  • Volunteers should not be alone with one community member. Please stay in the sight of others.
  • Volunteers are not to initiate or allow anyone to have physical contact with community members without staff advisement and the permission of the community member.
  • Volunteers are not to engage in a private transaction involving gifts, services or money with any community member. Any gifts should be directed to or channeled through the organization. Volunteers may not accept money or gifts from community members for services rendered. Volunteers are not to lend cell phones to, nor make calls for, community members.


  • Volunteers are asked not to share personal contact details such as home or email address, phone numbers or social media information with community members while volunteering or on their return home. (Volunteers in our children’s programs or in mentoring roles are an exception and should negotiate this with staff.)
  • Volunteers may not participate in any type of social media with community members. (Volunteers in our children’s programs or in mentoring roles are an exception and should negotiate this with staff.)
  • All personal information about community members is strictly confidential except when a community member shares information about matters with legal consequences such as someone being in danger or endangering others. In this case, volunteers must report the information to the staff person in charge immediately.
  • Volunteers may share their personal experience at the mission via social media but may NOT include photos or names of any community members.


  • Volunteers must adhere to their shift supervisor’s instructions. Failure to comply may result in dismissal.
  • Alcohol, smoking, drugs and weapons are strictly prohibited on site.
  • We request that volunteers uphold our positive environment and refrain from using profanity.
  • Harassment of any kind is not permitted and will be subject to disciplinary action by The Bowery Mission.
  • The Bowery Mission is not responsible for the personal property of volunteers.
  • The Bowery Mission kindly asks volunteers to respect our commitment to the Christian faith.

Violation of any of rules of conduct will result in a cancellation of volunteering privileges.

Outside Activities

  • Volunteers must follow the shift supervisor's instructions. The supervisor will dismiss anyone not complying or causing danger or disruption to the service being provided.
  • Volunteers are not authorized to identify themselves with The Bowery Mission, or attempt to use their position to gain credibility for political purposes or illicit personal gain.

Legal/Photo Release

Before volunteering with The Bowery Mission, individuals are asked to sign a release form acknowledging the activities and conditions of volunteering with our organization. For more questions, please contact [email protected].

*Community Members
Community members are defined as any person who benefits from any ministries of The Bowery Mission as a participant in any program including but not limited to clients, residents of The Bowery Mission facilities, children attending camps or after-school programs, or families.

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