NYC Service Campaign for Volunteerism

Sophie Roberts

New Yorkers are some of the most altruistically minded people you'll meet. Throughout the five boroughs, volunteers are preparing and distributing food for the homeless, planting trees, teaching adults to read, organizing books at the local library and singing songs to entertain kids who are in the hospital. NYC Service, the Bloomberg administration's major new volunteerism initiative, seeks to make it easier for residents to find a way to contribute to community service efforts tailored to their individual talents, time and interests. The project is the latest example of the administration's commitment to bettering the five boroughs and quality of life for the 8.2 million people who call the City home.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg officially launched NYC Service on April 20, explaining that the event and the NYC Service effort itself was "a rally, a celebration of how special we are and how exceptional we can become." The project is one of the first in the nation to be introduced in the wake of President Barack Obama's call for Americans to volunteer in their communities.

NYC Service takes an innovative approach to empowering New York City's diverse, dynamic and talented residents to contribute to civic service efforts. Building on the City's lauded tradition of volunteerism and social entrepreneurship, the project's mission is to help people in each of the five boroughs discover what they can give to their neighborhood and neighbors. By emphasizing the fact that "everybody's got something to offer," the initiative addresses the unique nature of social service and urges all New Yorkers to devote themselves to volunteering.

Further underscoring the idea that everybody has something to offer, NYC Service focuses on reaching all City residents through an ad campaign that spotlights real-life individuals who have dedicated themselves to community service. To convey this concept, the campaign juxtaposes photographs of volunteers with the message that everyone can give something of value to others—whether that involves time, passion, energy, skills or simply a willingness to help out. Any—and all—of these talents and generosities can be devoted to varied volunteer opportunities, from mentoring youths to learning CPR to making the City's art and cultural offerings more accessible.

In order to transform the City's inspiration and idealism into productivity and progress, the website offers New Yorkers a concrete way to get involved with more than 700 organizations throughout the five boroughs. The site allows users to choose the kind of project they want to assist, and individualized "matching" is achieved by selecting from six categories of volunteer opportunities: Strengthening Communities, Helping Neighbors in Need, Education, Environment, Health and Emergency Preparedness.

The site (and its functionality) is only one aspect of making NYC Service a success. Mayor Bloomberg's continued enthusiasm, support and leadership are vital to the effort; but above all, the true impact of NYC Service will come from the 8.2 million City residents who each have a unique gift to share. As the mayor stated at his State of the City address in January, "No city understands the value of cooperation and the power of civic unity more than New York." New Yorkers will undoubtedly prove the truth of this statement by making the City a place where altruism and civic generosity flourishes.