AmeriCorps members answer National Volunteer Week's call by helping those impacted by pandemic

As the country marks National Volunteer Week across the country, thousands of New Yorkers are answering the call to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Apr 21, 2020, 8:00 PM

Updated 1,488 days ago

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As the country marks National Volunteer Week across the country, thousands of New Yorkers are answering the call to help others during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Cesar Tobar-Acosta is a familiar face at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center even while the center is closed during the pandemic. “I'm using the experience I have and taking more ownership of it in order to help more people,” said Acosta. 
As an AmeriCorps member, Acosta was placed at the Bronx facility last year, to coordinate events that promote civic engagement. 
This includes organizing a weekly walk-in food pantry that serves about 11 families on average. During the crisis, food distribution is happening daily at the community center. 
Acosta and their team are handing out between 200 and 300 meals every day of the week for the past month. 
“The greatest need we can see for people across the city, and this goes for volunteer projects generally, and also for AmeriCorps members, are for food access,” said Acosta. 
Anusha Venkataraman is New York City’s chief service officer. Her agency oversees about 200 AmeriCorps members and connects thousands of volunteers to service opportunities around the city. 
Right now, she says help is most needed to increase access to food, support seniors, and check in on those in self-isolation. 
“We've had over 10,000 people sign up to volunteer through the city's platform nyc.gov/helpnow,” said Venkataraman. 
With the city’s volunteer coordination task force setting up 80 to 100 projects each week, AmeriCorps members are also stepping up to serve where needed.
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