Judy Shen, Langone MBA Class of 2013
The word “charity” is derived from the word “caritas” in Latin, meaning benevolence and good will to those in need. I know. It’s recruiting season and classes are well under way, there are more contacts you need to reach out to in your excel spreadsheet than the rows can fill. You’re probably wondering, where am I going to find time to volunteer or do something charitable. And when you’ve just sent out the 20th thank you letter, it seems more fitting to do some self-charity by chugging tequila shots at happy hour or binge eating that double make that triple fudged chocolate pint of ice cream. It’s quite necessary and healthy to reward yourself after a long day of hard work, and though this may seem counter-intuitive, doing something charitable for others, in many ways, can also improve your overall health and wellness during this stressful time.
So much of this is true — “No one can live happily who has regard for himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility,” wrote the philosopher, Seneca. I’ve once spoken with an MBA2 who shared with me how he often engaged in relationships or conversations at Stern only if it served a purpose for him. He no longer participated in activities or met people just for the pure enjoyment of it, which deeply troubled him. Part of it may be environmental conditioning, we observe behaviors of peers that lead to success (the student who aggressively networks and lands that prestigious internship at one of the top bank or consulting firm), and mirror them. We learn in class to maximize shareholder return and that selfless charity, often times, is not revenue generating and does not factor into business model.
Because we are human, we slowly adapt and may even adopt the same frameworks and behaviors as those in our surrounding. If you find yourself questioning every interaction with a cost benefit analysis, maybe it’s time to engage in some caritas. Research has shown that doing good for others can make us feel good. So when you need to clear your head from studying, stop worrying before the next interview or thinking about how to ask that girl or boy out, consider volunteering at one of these non-profits in our community.
And you may ask yourself why? I know why. Because in our Stern application letter we all answered that question, what motivated us come to Stern? Use that drive and passion to give it back to the community – many organizations can utilize your unique skills and your personality.
Many of organizations offer one day volunteer opportunities so you won’t need to overstretch your limits. So put whatever textbook, or drink in hand down. The world is waiting for you!
(This is only a rough guide of local non-profits seeking volunteers. It is not a comprehensive list so please feel free to do more research)
American Cancer Society
Join one of the committees to plan a Relay for Life run, or help with other corporate tasks or program planning.
American Red Cross
Volunteers help by teaching disaster-response workshops and other health and safety classes. The group’s Language Bank also seeks volunteers to interpret during crises.
Volunteer at special events, such as galas and other fundraisers, participate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s, or help with public education, helpline support calls, or awareness programs.
Assist with food pick-up and deliveries. The Green Market team help pack surplus product at Union Square’s Green Market and other locations.
Deliver weekend meals and shop for food for the elderly.
God’s Love We Deliver
Meals for homebound people living with HIV and AIDS.
Habitat for Humanity
Volunteers work on building housing for families living in sub-standard situations.
Holy Apostle Soup Kitchen
Help with Soup kitchen preparation and meal distribution. The kitchen is committed to feeding the hungry and proving counseling to those in need.
Provides mentoring in New York City to several groups of children, including foster children, the homeless and recent immigrants.
New York Cares
One of the largest volunteer organizations in NYC. Matches volunteers with local programs seeking help.