Volunteer FAQs

What Is Habitat NYC and Westchester’s COVID-19 Site Safety Plan?

Habitat NYC and Westchester is taking our return to having volunteers on site in the time of COVID-19 very seriously.

  • We are limiting the number of volunteers allowed on site each day to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • A volunteer’s temperature will be taken at check-in and a short questionnaire given regarding current health status.
  • Signs will be posted promoting social distancing of 6 feet and the wearing of face masks.
  • Anyone arriving sick or refusing to follow protocols will be refused entry or told to leave.
  • Tools will be wiped down after use and before handing to someone else.
  • Port-a-johns will be cleaned and sanitized twice a week and frequently touched items (such as door pulls and toilet seats) will be disinfected frequently.
What should Volunteers know before volunteering post COVID-19?
  • Stay home if you are sick unless you are leaving for essential medical care (including testing) or other essential errands.
  • All volunteers will be required to wear a face covering while on site. You can be contagious without symptoms and spread the disease when you cough, sneeze or even talk. We encourage volunteers to bring their own face covering – Masks will be provided for those who need it.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people. All volunteers are required to maintain a social distance of 6 feet while on site; when distancing of 6 feet is not possible, it’s even more essential to wear a mask at this time.
  • The site staff will refuse entry to or ask to leave anyone who is showing signs of being sick or refusing to wear a face mask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; clean frequently touched surfaces regularly; cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve, not your hands.
  • Volunteers will be required to answer a few questions upon check-in regarding their health and have their temperatures taken.
  • Volunteers are asked to bring bottled water to keep hydrated throughout the day. Our sites do not always have running water.
  • All volunteers must sign up via VolunteerHub prior to their volunteer day; volunteers who show up without signing up in advance will not be permitted on site.
Summer heat safety

Volunteering with Habitat NYC and Westchester is a hard day’s work! In the summer, that means working outdoors in the New York City heat and humidity. Did you know that properly preparing for working outdoors in the summer heat starts one to two hours before your arrival on site? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people should drink at least 16-20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity to avoid dehydration. Our site staff will also require mandatory water breaks throughout the day to ensure your safety, but we need your help to ensure you come prepared!

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often (make sure you bring a snack or two!).
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, take frequent breaks and use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.

Find more information and tips here on how to beat the heat here.

What’s the difference between “reserved” and “full”?

When you see “Reserved” or “Full” listed next to our events it means that we currently have no available volunteer spots for that day. This is a result of group reservations that we make for our corporate, faith, non-profit and youth groups that volunteer with Habitat NYC and Westchester.

Our busy season is spring—fall; during this time we have a higher than usual demand for volunteer opportunities. We are grateful for this outpouring of support, and regret that we are not able to host every interested individual.  We encourage you to utilize the waitlist option on our registration system, Volunteer Hub, and to check back each week as we regularly update waiting lists and post new opportunities.

Am I allowed to volunteer and leave early?

No. We ask for a full day commitment (9:00am – 4:00pm) from our volunteers. We plan for full days so that we can move work forward and get our families into their homes.

Does Habitat NYC and Westchester offer summer volunteer opportunities?

Yes. We have construction, A Brush with Kindness and ReStore opportunities year round. If you’re interested in one-time volunteer opportunities at our office please visit Volunteer Hub. For those looking for a longer term volunteer opportunity please contact us at volunteer@habitatnycwc.org or 646.779.8851.

My hours aren’t accurately represented on Volunteer Hub, how can I change that?

Please contact us at volunteer@habitatnycwc.org or 646.779.8851.

I signed up online but I’m having trouble finding the waiver. Do I need to bring a paper copy to site?

When you create an account we have you automatically sign an electronic waiver. If you need a waiver for a minor you can email volunteer@habitatnycwc.org or 646.779.8851.

I am signed up for the wrong day. Are you able to cancel the registration?

Yes. Please contact us at volunteer@habitatnycwc.org or 646.779.8851.

How do I set up a group volunteer day?

If you’d like to volunteer with a group, please contact the appropriate staff member below: 

How strict is the 16 years of age limit?

Per New York law, no one under age 16 can volunteer on construction sites. Kids under 16 years of age can learn more about our emerging leaders program on our School and Youth pageFor additional information please email us at volunteer@habitatnycwc.org

Is Habitat NYC and Westchester looking for volunteer photographers for construction projects and events?

Yes! If you’re interested in taking photos for Habitat NYC and Westchester, please email Alexandra Gonzalez, our Marketing & Communications Coordinator, at agonzalez@habitatnycwc.org with some samples of your work.

Do you offer opportunities for kids younger than 16 years of age?

Learn more about our emerging leaders program on our School and Youth pageFor additional information please email us at volunteer@habitatnycwc.org

Can I show up on site if I’m waitlisted for an event?

No. We ask volunteers to wait for a confirmation email. If a spot becomes available you will be notified by our volunteer registration system. Our sites have a max capacity and if we have more volunteers than we are able to safely accommodate you be turned away. 

Is there a financial requirement for volunteering?

Habitat NYC and Westchester has a financial ask of groups who volunteer with us, but we do not require donations for individuals.

I went to register for an event, but all the slots are reserved or full. What should I do?

We typically post new volunteer opportunities every 2-3 weeks. If you don’t see anything now, please check back!

I need to do community service or court-mandated hours. Will Habitat NYC and Westchester verify my hours?

Yes, we can provide a letter verifying hours of service. Please note that all letters will only be sent electronically and must be requested with at least 7 days advance notice. Due to the volume of requests, our volunteer opportunities are on a first come-first served basis and we are unable to guarantee a specific number of hours of service in advance. We encourage you to create a Volunteer Hub account and register for available volunteer opportunities.

A Day In the Life
  • No construction experience necessary – just enthusiasm! Come prepared to haul, dig, measure, cut, pound, raise, demolish or clean – and see real results.
  • We work hard to move our Habitat homebuyers into their homes and plan our work based on the number of volunteers who have registered for that day. If you’re unable to make it, please let us know so that we can open your spot for another volunteer.
  • Habitat NYC and Westchester builds with volunteers Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Habitat NYC and Westchester work days begin promptly at 9am. To make the most of volunteer time, we ask that volunteers arrive at least 15 minutes early to check in and prepare for the day. After volunteers are checked in, we provide an orientation for the day, giving an overview of the day’s work as well as critical safety information.
  • Help us stay on time and on track! If you’re running late, please contact the site staff via the number we provide you. If you expect to be more than 30 minutes late, we ask that you consider rescheduling your volunteer day. Late arrivals disrupt our ability to effectively train and orient volunteers.
Daily Schedule

8:45am: Volunteers arrive, sign in and submit their waivers
9:00am: Morning meeting! This provides a site overview and Habitat NYC and Westchester info
9:15am: Break into smaller groups and get started!
12:00pm: Break for lunch
1:00pm: Back to work!
3:30pm: Clean up and wrap up
4:00pm: Depart, thank you!

Know Before You Go
  • You must be at least 16 years of age to participate on a construction site or to participate in one of our Brush with Kindness projects.
  • All volunteers must complete a Release and Waiver of Liability. Volunteers under 18 must have a signed consent waiver from a parent/guardian.
  • We work rain on shine! For weather-related cancellations due to extreme weather conditions, please call our Hotline at 212-991-4000 (press 5 for the volunteer department and then 1 for site closings) the morning of your volunteer day
  • If you are unable to perform a task due to health concerns, please let your site staff know when you arrive.
What to Bring & What to Leave At Home
  • Leave your unessential valuables at home. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee a safe place to store them.
  • Water is available throughout the day. Please bring a reusable bottle to refill as you go.
  • Bring your lunch!
  • We provide clean port-o-johns and hand sanitizer.
What to Wear
  • Wear comfortable work clothes since you will definitely get dirty!
  • Most of the homes we are currently building or repairing are not yet heated, however, warming stations are located throughout each home and provide minimal heat. Please dress accordingly- multiple layers are best.
  • For construction projects wear thick-soled shoes or work boots to comply with city & state laws. Sneakers are allowed on Brush With Kindness projects. For safety reasons, you may be unable to volunteer if you don’t have the proper shoes.
  • Bring a bandana or skull cap to wear underneath the hard hat.
  • Habitat NYC and Westchester provides gloves, tools, and safety equipment, although you are welcome to bring your own tools and safety equipment if you prefer.
Stay Safe
  • No smoking is allowed on site.
  • Our Site Supervisors are amazing and dedicated professionals who are responsible for your safety and can give you the best advice about how to build the Habitat Way!
  • Cell phones and other electronic equipment may only be used in designated areas. Trust us, hammering and texting don’t mix.

Yvette and her family in their Habitat home

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