New York City Youth Outreach

The work we did was fulfilling and important at the same time. In no way was it busy work, it felt like we were genuinely helping a small organization with tasks that would have taken weeks to complete with a staff of three.”

Destination: New York, NY

Trip Organizers: Emma York ’19 ([email protected]) & Anna Sun ’19 ([email protected])

The Experience

For one week, Williams students helped out at Bellevue Hospital’s Reach Out and Read Program, a nonprofit organization that serves children and teens in Manhattan, providing support for kids affected by trauma, mental illness, behavioral disorders, and learning disabilities. During the mornings, participants helped with reading and counted, replaced, and repaired damaged books. The students read aloud to patients before their appointments using the skills they learned from their training with director Claudia Aristy. The students were also included in news coverage by Univision. The Williams team worked side by side with the students and teachers in the after-school program with the goal of learning from and supporting the children they met not only as students, but as individuals with unique pasts, presents, and futures.

Participant Quotes

  • “I learned that working as a team means taking the lead in areas of my expertise such as navigating the streets of NYC. I also learned to be patient and more respectful of other members’ decisions and feelings. Lastly, I learned to take turns in doing different assignments given by the Bellevue staff by rotating and keeping track of shifts during our time volunteering.”
  • “My favorite aspect of this trip was the the diversity (of New York in general, as well). Bellevue Hospital in NYC caters to families of such a wide range of backgrounds and cultures that you do not see so commonly on Williams campus.”
  • “I came only expecting to work with children and learn from them but I learnt so much about the area and the country in general and how diverse it is.”
  • Oftentimes we may have very high or low expectations about the feasibility of the work experience, so participating directly in the field is important for making those expectations more reasonable. The work I did certainly showed the realities of working in a non-profit, fairly grassroots organizations that has highly intensive and interactive parts that demand a lot of attention and engagement as well as more behind-the-scenes, administrative parts. But above all, I learned that the work I did was always important and applicable to the concerns and needs of the Bellevue community.