Charity & Grassroots in New York City

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The volunteers of Musicians On Call's Bedside Performance Program may not have gone through med school, but that doesn't mean they're not healers. In fact, in some cases the responses they're able to elicit from their small hospital-room audiences—a smile on a stress-racked face, a foot moving ever so slightly to the music—are enough to make most doctors jealous.

The concept is as simple as it is unconventional: a volunteer knocks on a hospital door and asks if the room's occupant would like to hear some music. Patients who agree are treated to a brief private concert, a respite from the anxiety and monotony that can characterize even brief hospital stays. These miniature performances are so effective that in its 14 years of existence the organization has garnered support from celebrities across the musical spectrum and has grown to include branches in six cities: New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Through these branches, it's arranged for more than 400,000 patients, family members, and caregivers to rest their minds and recharge their spirits through the power of live music.

Live music, however, isn't the only salve in Musicians On Call's arsenal. Hospitals in all 50 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and Ireland, have received comprehensive CD libraries, as well as CD players, as part of the organization's Music Pharmacy program.

NBC Nightly News features MOC from Ebie McFarland on Vimeo.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1133 Broadway
New York,
NY
US

After graduating from college, Lucia Rollow started looking for a place to print her photos in New York, only to be put off by expensive and snobbish darkrooms. So she began her own operation in a storage unit in the basement of an apartment building. Unable to tolerate solitary confinement for long, Lucia opened it up to other photographers and dubbed the space Bushwick Community Darkroom. Allison Putnam was among the influx of regular visitors, and she eventually became Lucia's cohort in the communal photography effort. The two share a passion for old-school photo printing, despite the availability of apps that impart vintage effects digitally. As Lucia told Gloria Dawson of The Brooklyn Ink, “The darkroom was the reason I fell in love with photography, just the idea that you could capture this image and replicate it and watch it appear seemingly out of nowhere is incredible.”

Meanwhile, photographers Vanessa Gill and Cheryl Arent were working on a communal-darkroom venture similar to Lucia's, and in 2012 the duos joined forces to crowdsource funding for a real studio space. Today, all four ladies work out of their newly opened studio, where they keep film photography alive with professional printing equipment and cryogenic storage tanks for old cameras. With the support of the community, this quartet teaches classes and provides film photographers with affordable access to resources such as enlargers and a Fujimoto CP51 color processor.

1095 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn,
NY
US

A recurring guest on Martha Stewart Living radio, Simon Feil has not only been a self-described "chef by osmosis his entire life," but an actor and educator who shares his passion with amateur cooks. Feil and his team of chefs teach prospective sushi rollers to craft their own maki in group classes, private lessons, and sometimes even at students’ homes. Whether they're teaching individuals or corporate clients, chefs guide their charges through each step to creating platefuls of savory seafood. The variety of classes—which even includes a lesson geared toward pregnant sushi fans—encompasses many different levels of cooking experience and fish-whispering ability. Gift baskets, available for an additional fee, help outfit customers with their own maki-making gear.

109 E 16th St
New York,
NY
US

As music education declines in schools across the country in response to shrinking budgets, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation fights to keep music in kids' lives by bolstering these programs and raising awareness about the benefits of arts education. The organization equips qualifying schools with the tools necessary to establish a sustainable instrumental-music program, such as a set of band or string instruments, a keyboard or guitar lab, or even a mariachi ensemble. Since its inception, VH1 Save The Music has provided new musical instruments to more than 1,900 public schools in more than 192 school districts across the country, improving academic performance, community pride, and self-esteem for 2.3 million kids.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1515 Broadway
New York,
NY
US

U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts program creates opportunities for donors to purchase specific lifesaving items, such as blankets, mosquito nets, and therapeutic milk, which are then shipped to children in more than 150 countries. Through its Inspired Gifts program, UNICEF aims to provide immunization kits filled with 20 doses of the tetanus vaccine, 20 doses of the polio vaccine, and 10 doses of the measles vaccine to mothers and children, in an effort to reduce the destructive capacity of those diseases across the globe. Each kit travels to its destination in a cold carrier box to maintain the appropriate temperature, and costs $20.

125 Maiden Ln
New York,
NY
US

While searching for a breakthrough in diagnosis, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund also provides funding to a variety of support services to aid women across the country. One such service is the Woman to Woman program, a one-on-one support network based at Mount Sinai Medical Center for women with gynecological cancer. Highly trained volunteers, each of whom is also a survivor of gynecological cancer, assist patients in their fight by providing emotional support and by providing education about preparing themselves for difficult treatment periods. Woman to Woman also includes a separate component to educate the partners and families of women in treatment about supporting their loved ones throughout their struggle. Over the past six years, more than 500 women and their families have received assistance from these mentors, and the program hopes to expand its model to other hospitals soon.

14 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York,
NY
US