It’s January, which means there have already been an infinite number of posts on the Internet about New Year’s Resolutions. Whether cynical and bitter or hopeful and sunny, one thing’s for sure: There are no shortage of Think Pieces on how you can make, keep, disdain, or subvert the resolution tradition.
Most resolutions are personal ones, and the non-personal resolutions designed to make the world better are probably kept private unless you’re a showboating grandstander more interested in getting credit for your purity than actually, you know, making the world a better place. But sprinkling in some goodness to your 2018 Self-Improvement Resolutions is a great idea—why not make one of your resolutions to volunteer and make your local community a better, stronger one? One great benefit to volunteering is that you more or less get carte blanche to complain all you want. And nothing is more American than complaining, so that license is valuable.
There are tons of ways you can volunteer in Hoboken. While you can always work solo to make your community better in a million small ways, there are also plenty of organizations that pool resources and efforts. The list here isn’t comprehensive by any stretch, but serves as a roundup of ways anyone can get started volunteering today.
There are lots of ways you can put your time to good use just making life better in general around these parts. The Hoboken Shelter always needs help, in the form of donations and volunteer efforts. This is mostly centered around the meals they serve the homeless population, so be prepared to cook, clean, stock, and serve. Note that large groups should call ahead to schedule a time, and don’t be surprised if there are too many volunteers—or not nearly enough; it’s kind of feast or famine there.
Two great ways to help out are with the Hoboken University Medical Center and the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The former is always happy to take on volunteers to help out around the hospital, and you can have a huge impact on people who are probably not having a great time in their life. The screening is slow and strict, so be prepared to wait and fill out some paperwork, and don’t be surprised if you’re asked to do some pretty intense stuff there—when emergencies hit, it’s often all hands on deck. The Hoboken VAC is one of the last all-volunteer EMS services left in the state, if not the country, and not only will you be helping to save lives, you’ll also get CPR certified.
Speaking of emergencies, Hoboken maintains an all-volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). A training course is required, but it’s free and you don’t need any experience or special skills. As anyone who lived through Sandy knows, people who actually know what to do and how to get in contact with services during an emergency is an absolute necessity.
Finally, a less intense but no less important volunteering opportunity lies with the Hoboken Historical Museum, which needs volunteers in its exhibiting and fundraising efforts. It’s a fun, educational way to preserve our community’s history and culture. The Hoboken Elks Club also sponsors a lot of community service-oriented programs and events and they’re always looking for volunteers to help them staff up.
Like Mariah Carey says, children are the future. Hoboken, like a lot of large towns, has a lot of kids who either need some guidance, something to do after school, or just good examples in general. TRUE Mentors tries to get kids on the path to successful adulthood by helping them find employment, learn valuable skills, and generally absorb the good sense and experience of a mentor—and they always need mentors. The Hoboken Family Alliance is focused on community, schools, and introducing neighbors to each other in order to foster a strong bond between people, and they also run tons of programs throughout the year that can use some volunteering. And the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County is the classic old-school program that tries to give kids a safe place to hang out, fun, safe activities to engage in, and mentors of both sexes to show them how to adult.
Animals, as always, are often the first to suffer, and stray animals have a direct impact on our community. Volunteering to help out our furry critter friends can start with being a foster home to adoptable cats and dogs—while adopting and donating is wonderful, there are usually too many animals and not enough homes for them, so fostering is a crucial way to keep the critters off the streets until they can be situated. You can foster for JerseyCats or Companion Animal Placement, giving animals a safe place to live and some affection while they recuperate from injury or until their forever home comes knocking.
Finally, volunteering to help keep our world viable is always a good idea. Riverkeeper is always looking for folks to help keep the Hudson and its banks clean and safe. And if you’re not into organized volunteering, you can also just take it upon yourself to pick up trash when you come across it—maybe organizing one of those block party-cum-cleanup events in your neighborhood.
Volunteering is one of the most pure things you can do—although there is a reward for it, namely the sense that you’ve done your part. What are some other great ways to donate your time?