For years, I've been the biggest fan ever of The Housing Works Book Cafe in SoHo. I tell everyone I know about it, especially dedicated readers and writers. It is truly a haven, a cross between an old library, a literary salon, and a fun cafe where you can order anything from quiche to an Italian soda.
The Book Cafe, along with the Housing Works thrift shops sprinkled throughout the city (and now in Brooklyn), is totally reliant upon volunteer labor.
I've had it in my mind for a while that it would be a good thing to volunteer for HW. So shortly after The New Year, I went to an orientation for potential volunteers. After it was over, I asked the coordinator if he needed help with the blog. He asked if I would assist with a specific project - interviewing folks who have been volunteering with HW for a decade or more.
Tonight, I had the honor of going to the Chelsea HW thrift store to interview the teen or more year folks.. What a kind, loyal, and creative bunch. You cannot be a diva and volunteer for that long. It's not glamorous work - a lot of it involves physical labor - and volunteers see a lot of paid staff come and go like any other retail setting. So in a way it's the volunteers who provide the institutional memory of Housing Works.
Stay tuned to see these volunteer profiles in the Housing Works website.
Can't wait for the upcoming HW party for volunteers on January 28th!