Helping Those in Need: A Sabbatical, Gap-Year, in Volunteer Service
By Dr. Patrick McGuire
Volunteer service has always been an important part of my life, since childhood, committed to serving those in need. After serving in several academic leadership roles for the past 30 years on the secondary and university levels, I was privileged to take a sabbatical or “gap year” and decided to devote my time in volunteer service at many partnering agencies as a New York Cares volunteer, where I’ve been a volunteer for the past nine years, throughout the five boroughs in the City of New York.
I’ve been serving the people of New York City as a volunteer at partnering agencies such as: Gods Love We Deliver, the Coalition for the Homeless, reading to children at PS 64M, guiding young adults at a pre-GRE Prep program, preparing and serving breakfast to the hungry and homeless in many Manhattan neighborhoods, serving meals to seniors at Lenox Hill Senior Center, playing math games with third graders at PS 19Q, swim and splash with KEEN at the 92nd Street Y, employment and college access projects, hosting ice cream socials for patients at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and serving as a coat ambassador collecting, sorting, and distributing coats to keep New Yorkers warm during the cold months. Each of these experiences has reaffirmed my life-long commitment to serving others in need.
Genuine care for the person is foundational to volunteer service. Many individuals simply desired someone to listen. Often, the individuals I met are lonely and simply enjoy sharing their life story and experiences. Still, others have shared with me that they are hungry and are in need an extra sandwich or piece of fruit.
I have volunteered with many wonderful, caring, New Yorkers from all parts of the globe and professions. These caring volunteers are hope. Hope, building a better quality of life, better communities and committed to making a difference to the people of New York City in need.
Recently I was honored by President Obama, awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for my lifelong commitment to building a stronger community through volunteer service and also by the New York City Mayor’s Office NYC Service with the 2015 Certificate of Recognition for outstanding efforts to improve the City of New York through volunteer service. While these recognitions are much appreciated, I continue to engage in volunteer service to help those in need find a better quality of life or empower individuals to reach the next step in achieving their dream, or maybe providing a much needed meal, with a delicious piece of dessert or simply finding comfort in knowing someone cares.
As I prepare to return to academic administration and the classroom, I will bring the wealth of experiences and stories from my volunteer service sabbatical\gap-year. I know I will continue to serve as a volunteer and guide students in volunteer service to make a difference and help those New Yorkers in need. #