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Volunteer in NYC

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 or knowledge of a foreign language is not required for most opportunities

  • Volunteer time commitment will vary depending on volunteer opportunity

  • Each volunteer’s schedule and meeting location is unique to their individual volunteer role

  • Please note that our clients reside throughout the five boroughs of New York City; a volunteer’s willingness to travel will greatly help us to meet the needs of our clients

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 in-person and 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. This role will directly impact the lives and legal processes of our clients.  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, Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Mentorship Opportunities

English Language Conversation Partner

English Language Conversation Partners help refugees and asylum seekers with an intermediate or advanced level of English improve their language skills through conversation practice. English Language Conversation Partners are great at starting and maintaining dialogue, are good listeners, patient, and are interested in helping non-native English speakers feel more comfortable while speaking English in their new communities. We're looking for individuals with excellent facilitation skills, with experience working closely with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and who are willing to travel throughout the boroughs of NYC.

*English Language Conversation Partners meet one on one with their language partner for two hours per week for a duration of five months.

ENL/ESL (English as a New Language) Tutor

ESL/ENL Tutors are matched with refugees and asylum seekers with a beginner’s level of English. Students may have little to no English language skills. Through weekly sessions, concentrating on basic and conversational English, ESL/ENL tutors help refugees communicate with their neighbors, employers and service providers and are critical in long-term success. Create your own engaging lesson plans, or use our tutoring materials to promote learning and cultural sharing. ESL 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 find and upgrade their employment.  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 assist refugees and asylum seekers navigate the U.S job market through professional networks and workforce development training to ensure new hires succeed on the job and can pursue a career. 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 bring increased independence, social mobility, and opportunity to the lives of our clients.

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

College Mentor

College mentors help refugees, asylees and asylum seekers navigate the U.S. college admissions process. College mentors may be asked to help mentees identify appropriate college and funding sources, prepare for entrance exams or complete college applications. By providing guidance and support, college mentors can bring increased independence, social mobility and opportunity to the lives of refugees and asylum seekers by helping them to access higher education.

*College Mentors meet with their mentee(s) for two hours per week for a duration of five months.

New York Neighbor

New York Neighbors are matched with refugees, asylees and asylum seekers in a partnership of cultural exchange and support. By providing a warm welcome, friendship and practical help, New York Neighbors assist mentees in navigating American society and its private and public systems in order to integrate into their new community.
*New York Neighbors provide on-call, one-time practical support to refugees and asylum seekers served by HIAS in New York.

Program Support Volunteers

Program Support Volunteers

Program Support Volunteers help to develop and improve HIAS’ Volunteer Services Program in New York.  Program Support Volunteers may help with the creation of written materials and resources for volunteers and clients, facilitate volunteer trainings or support groups and plan NYC excursions to help clients get to know their new city and connect with other volunteers.  Researching resources related to housing or creating a gofundme page to collect MetroCards are other critical ways that Program Support Voluneters help to meet the needs of our clients.  With the right skill-set and experience, these volunteers have the opportunity to innovate program operations and services.

*Program Support Volunteers may work remotely and according to their availability.