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DOROT Westchester


Jim Heaney — Homelessness Prevention Program

DOROT volunteer since: 2000

Jim Heaney How did you get involved with DOROT?

About ten years ago, The New School held a “Night for Volunteering” where organizations sent speakers to recruit new volunteers. DOROT was one of two organizations I joined at the time, and I'm still working for both.

What type of volunteer activities do you do?

I work at DOROT’s Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP). Every week a volunteer comes in to cook for all the clients. Fortunately for them, I’m not the volunteer who cooks, but every other week I do set things up, serve the meal, and handle the clean up.

In addition, about five years ago, I started a program at the HPP where I open the place up each Sunday for about five hours so clients and former clients can come in, have dinner, watch TV, and talk.

Over the past year or so, thanks to a wonderful person or group that has donated movie passes to DOROT, I’ve been able to organize quite a few movie outings for the clients. This has been a fantastic treat for them, and if the person responsible for the passes happens to be reading this, please know how grateful we are for the gift.

Finally, every year I work DOROT’s Thanksgiving Banquet. For the first few years, I had kitchen duty, and now I help pack the food bags for the home visits.

In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?

As I’ve said, I’ve got ten or so years of experience at the HPP and I’m truly amazed at the positive and upbeat spirit of the vast majority of the clients. Seeing it certainly has made a difference in how I handle the ups and downs of my own life.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

So many clients have told me how grateful they are for all the work the volunteers do. They’re genuinely touched by our efforts and I just can’t justify not doing it. Frankly, I’m grateful too for the opportunity to make someone’s life a little bit better.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a better place to volunteer than DOROT. You’ll meet some amazing people, clients, and staff. And there’s no better feeling than getting the chance to really make a difference to so many people.

Most memorable volunteer moment:

I’m not sure this is the most memorable moment, but the first thought that comes to mind is the Super Bowl party we had a few years ago at the HPP. A large crowd turned out and had a really good time. By the way, it certainly didn’t hurt that the Giants rallied late in the game and won.

What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?

I’d like to say a word about the staff at the HPP. I’ve never met a more dedicated group of people. For years now, I’ve worked with Elazar, Gretchen, and Amelia. From what I’ve seen, they never allow the clients to see them in a bad mood. It’s amazing, really. Even the yearly interns are incredibly caring. Together, they are the ones responsible for setting a mood at the HPP where both clients and volunteers feel like family.

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