When the coronavirus hit New York, Bernadette Ludwig, a sociology professor at Wagner College, was looking for ways to volunteer from home.
For her, the solution was New York Cares, a nonprofit organization created in 1987 to connect willing volunteers with the civic groups that need their help.
The New York Cares website plugged her in to a program that makes wellness calls to senior residents in New York City Housing Authority communities.
Everything is done online, so Dr. Ludwig is able to avoid the virus while connecting with others and keep her identity secure.
After signing up online and going through the New York Cares background check, she picked time slots (each a little less than 3 hours) and goes online to make her calls. A computer-prompted script walks her through, point by point, the things she has to check with the senior citizens: needs for food, healthcare providers and medication, social isolation, personal safety, etc.
“What I really like is making a difference and getting to talk with people with such different experiences,” Dr. Ludwig said. “They are all so friendly. Many are really appreciative of someone reaching out and asking about their wellbeing.”
The one-time senior wellness check is not the only virtual volunteer opportunity made available by New York Cares. Two others are:
- Volunteer Tech Ambassadors, who call NYC public school students and their families to provide support with learning technology, and
- Friendly Conversation with Seniors, who receive calls every couple of weeks from volunteers to reduce their social isolation.