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Volunteer in NYC

The COVID-19 outbreak has been scary and disruptive. Yet even as we focus on keeping up with the news and making changes to our daily lives, the world’s refugees and asylum seekers still deserve our attention and support. All of our volunteer programs are currently fully remote, and some, which required in-person activities, have been temporarily paused. The volunteer roles you see below are those which are currently active, and for which we on-board quarterly. Please sign up for the next informational session by completing the application below.

In New York City, HIAS resettles newly arrived refugees, provides legal support for asylum seekers, and engages volunteers to extend the reach of our current services. We are dedicated to cultivating volunteerism by providing the opportunity for volunteers to share their specialized skills and further our mission to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.

What to know before you volunteer:

  • Volunteers must be 18+

  • Experience with or knowledge of a foreign language is not required for all opportunities

  • Volunteer time commitment will vary depending on volunteer opportunity

  • Each volunteer’s schedule and meeting location is unique

  • Please note that currently all volunteer programs are completely virtual all HIAS volunteers will need to be able to use Zoom, WhatsApp, or Skype, and have a webcam or video call capabilities

  • We require a background check for all volunteers working directly with HIAS clients. This includes a fee which differs based on where you have lived.

HIAS Volunteers are:

  • Interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the complex lives of refugees and asylum seekers in NYC

  • Committed to assisting refugees and asylum seekers to become integrated and self-sufficient in their new communities

  • Patient, resourceful, flexible, culturally sensitive, and empathetic

  • From a wide range of professional and educational backgrounds

Interpretation and Translation Opportunities

Volunteer Interpreters and Translators

Volunteer Interpreters and Translators assist with remote interpretation and translation needs to provide ongoing support to refugees, asylees, and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders.  Under the direction of HIAS staff, the primary responsibility of the interpreter/translator volunteer is to facilitate accurate, culturally competent, and sensitive communication between non-English speaking clients and HIAS staff. All HIAS interpreters and translators are required to undergo HIAS' Volunteer Interpreter/Translator training once accepted.

This role directly impacts the lives, resettlement and legal processes of our clients as they navigate the U.S. refugee resettlement, asylum, and integration process.

*Translators and interpreters spend, on average, two hours per week volunteering their time and language expertise to HIAS’ asylum seeking and resettlement clients in person, over the phone or through remote written translation.

*Languages needed: Russian, Ukrainian, Dari, Pashto, Farsi, Sri Lankan Tamil, Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Mentorship Volunteer Opportunities

ENL (English as a New Language) Tutor

ENL Tutors are matched with refugees and asylum seekers with varying levels of English. Students may have little to no English language skills, or may have greater conversational abilities. Through weekly sessions, concentrating on each client’s specific and unique goals, ENL tutors help refugees communicate with their neighbors, employers and service providers. This program is critical for HIAS clients’ long-term success. As an ENL tutor you would create your own engaging lesson plans, or use our tutoring materials to promote learning and cultural sharing. ENL tutors must have prior experience teaching English to non-native English speakers.

*ENL Volunteers meet with their students for two hours per week for a duration of five months.

Career Mentor

Career Mentors help refugees and asylum seekers navigate employment in the United States.  Finding a job is one of the first and most critical steps for our clients, putting them on the road to financial independence and a future career. Career Mentors may assist refugees and asylum seekers by:

  • Reviewing or creating a resume

  • Preparing a cover letter

  • Finding job opportunities via websites such as Indeed.com, Idealist.org, and LinkedIn

Professionals from diverse backgrounds are essential to help guide refugees to find an entry-level job, re-enter former professions, and upgrade current employment!  

*Career Mentors meet with their students for two hours per week for a duration of five months.

Corporate/Group Volunteer Opportunities

Employment Workshops 

HIAS New York provides direct services to refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrants to help them meet basic needs, integrate into their new communities and achieve self-sufficiency. As part of this work, HIAS NY is organizing a series of virtual employment workshops for refugees and asylum seekers who are work authorized. These workshops help clients prepare for job interviews through mock interviewing and resume reviews with volunteers, which will be critical to help them get back on their feet as the economy recovers from COVID-19. These workshops are ideal ways for corporations or groups to engage in direct service volunteering with HIAS. 

Employment workshops armade up of three main parts:  

  • A presentation by HIAS staff on how to get a job, interviewing, negotiating, and more
  • One-on-one mock interview practice  
  • One-on-one resume reviews  

For the latter two parts, this is where volunteers share their specialized knowledge and skills to help HIAS clients prepare their resumes and practice interviewing for jobs in their field.  

Typically, Employment Workshops occur from 5:30-8 pm ET on a weekday. The workshops can include from 10-12 volunteers. There is a budget requirement to cover HIAS staff time for the planning and implementation of these workshops. 

To inquire about planning an Employment Workshop for your organization, please reach out to SJ Renfroe at sarajane.renfroe@hias.org