Helping Hands for the Disabled of NYC (HHDNYC) is a non-profit organization that was founded by Alice Crespo nearly 38 years ago. Crespo was born blind and is able to perform daily tasks with her cane and service dog, Wilimae. Nonetheless, she understands and recognizes the struggles that others with disabilities go through when they don’t have a solid support system. Crespo’s motivation to create HHDNYC began back in 1982 when she realized there were very limited recreational events accessible for people with disabilities. Her organization thus began as a means of providing disabled people with transportation and/or guidance at various NYC events. HHDNYC soon grew into what it is today after Crespo concluded that those living with disabilities not only need assistance attending events outside their homes, but with daily tasks inside their homes as well.
With this revelation came Crespo’s decision to have HHDNYC provide special services that the government cannot necessarily facilitate. These special services include food pantry delivery, reading mail, filling out paperwork, helping with medical appointments, and running errands. Additionally, HHDNYC organizes recreational events once a month and has a peer support program. What makes these trips special is that there are guides for the blind, wheelchair accessible vans, and sign language interpreters. This organization has changed the lives of its members and has become a haven for many of our city’s disabled. Members in HHDNYC have praised the organization and claim that “they have been a godsend.” One member, R. Feinstein, said, “I never dreamed that this organization would be of such great help to me. But it has turned out to be very important in my life.” HHDNYC is a tight-knit group that cares for each other and wants every one of its members to thrive. What makes HHDNYC unique from other organizations is that they step in to help with emergencies without requiring a ton of paperwork and try to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
To become a member applicants must provide a medical letter serving as proof of disability, a certificate of blindness, or a copy of their Access-A-Ride Card along with a yearly twenty-dollar fee.
At this moment, HHDNYC needs as many volunteers as possible to join the small group who deliver food to about 22 blind and wheelchair-bound members throughout the month. Volunteers also play a crucial part in making HHDNYC’s monthly events possible. One such event is Be A Friend Day where HHDNYC members have the opportunity to be accompanied by a volunteer for three hours to receive help with tasks or simply chat and bond. Interested applicants should fill out an application, attend one orientation meeting, and complete a background check. The standard application usually requires a one-year commitment, but there is also a simplified application for one-time volunteers.
HHDNYC’s website and volunteer application are listed below:
Organization’s Website: https://www.hhdnyc.org/
Volunteer Application: https://www.hhdnyc.org/volunteer-application.html