Members of the New York chapter of City Year came to the Getting Out and Staying Out offices in February and volunteered their time to sort and organize recently donated clothing and books.
City Year, a member organization of the AmeriCorps national service network, recruits energetic and motivated young adults who wish to invest their time in communities in need. City Year New York participants typically assist elementary-to-middle school students with their schoolwork so that they can graduate high school on time, but the 16 volunteers who came to GOSO decided to give back in the neighborhoods where their students actually live.
The volunteers organized the GOSO storage closet’s wide array of donated clothing, which GOSO receives from individuals, companies, and other organizations. These donations are a crucial part of GOSO’s employment program, GOSOWorks. GOSO provides a professional outfit to every guy who graduates our two-week job readiness curriculum so that they can feel prepared and confident when heading out to job interviews.
“GOSO welcomed City Year with open arms … it was an enjoyable
and special volunteer opportunity for me.”
– Ravit K, East Harlem, NY
Interview-quality clothing is often expensive and inaccessible, which makes these donations incredibly important to the success of our guys. Plus, there’s a certain boost in confidence and agency that comes with business attire – it feels good to look good! We also keep casual clothes on hand for our clients, ranging from sweatshirts and jeans to winter coats, and even pajamas. These clothes are just as, if not more, necessary to improving the daily lives of our guys and keeping them warm during the colder months of the year.
“Thank you GOSO for allowing City Year to view the inner workings of such an
amazing organization! The resources, support, and educational opportunities you
all provide to young men have proven to go a long way in securing their success
after prison. I had so much fun building bookshelves and sorting business
clothing that will be provided to GOSO men upon graduation.”
– Grace Selby, Corp Member at P.S./M.S. 57, East Harlem, NY
Volunteers also helped to sort and shelve our vast collection of donated books. This time around, GOSO received a huge assortment that included dozens of mint-condition comic books! Also included are literary classics like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; mystery & thriller novels by famous authors like Sara Paretsky and John Grisham; modern works on the subjects of mass incarceration and criminal justice like Michelle Alexander’s landmark work The New Jim Crow; and several other genres by dozens of other authors. Our guys have the privilege of reading our books while they hang out at GOSO, or they can check them out and take them home. We also set aside a portion of donated books to explicitly serve clients at Riker’s Island or in upstate facilities. This allows our guys to make meaningful use of their time enjoying the broad array of literature at their disposal.
GOSO would like to thank the City Year New York volunteers for coming out and helping make the Getting Out and Staying Out offices an even more accessible and enjoyable space. Their help – and the help of all of our volunteers – is greatly appreciated!