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  April 17, 2005

Helping to Make Our City Even Better

By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Since I was a kid, I've always believed that giving back to the community is one of the most important things we can do. I first learned that lesson from my father, a bookkeeper who always set part of his salary aside each year for charity. As mayor, I've learned that there are thousands and thousands of New Yorkers who demonstrate that same generosity each year.

The truth is that money is not the only way to give back; all of us have the ability to give something just as valuable: our time. There are many organizations and groups - in every community, in every borough - looking for a helping hand. And there may be no better time to give our time... than right now. After all, the sun is out...spring is finally here...and today is the official start of National Volunteer Week.

Finding a volunteer experience that is meaningful and convenient couldn't be easier. Our city has a unique agency, the Mayor's Volunteer Center, which connects thousands of New Yorkers each year with volunteer opportunities that best fit their needs, skills, and interests. To make that matchmaking even more effective, the Volunteer Center has partnered with United Way of New York City to create a website with links to more than 400 organizations with over 500 different activities in all five boroughs. And, unlike most other search engines, this website thinks like a New Yorker. That means you can confine your search request to your borough, or even your zip code.

New Yorkers are busy people - so we've tried to make volunteering as simple and convenient as possible. Now it's your turn: I challenge you to find just one single hour in your week that could be used more productively. Then visit, click on the volunteering icon to access our database, and pick an opportunity or activity that works best for you. It might be delivering food to a soup kitchen with City Harvest...or working with homeless children at the Actors Theatre Workshop. You can tutor a student during your lunch hour through Learning Leaders...or paint benches in your local park with Partnership for Parks.

Even those who don't have access to a computer can still find a great volunteer opportunity - simply by calling 311. One of our citizen service specialists will be able to connect you to a City agency or local non-profit that has plenty of volunteer opportunities... or you can speak with a representative from our Volunteer Center, who can help with a more specific request. There's something for everyone.

And trust me, once you start volunteering, you won't want to stop. It's a wonderful way to meet new people...pick up a new skill or two...and gain an incredible satisfaction from doing your part to make our city - and our world - a little bit better.