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Volunteer Program for Vulnerable Populations

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey

Afya offers a robust volunteer program for vulnerable populations ( from day treatment programs, mental health clinics and some from probation and parole officers for community service)

These volunteers, while sorting to help others, come full circle to helping themselves.

Afya’s Founder, an Occupational Therapist (OT) for over 30 years and adjunct faculty member at Columbia University, supervises a graduate Occupational Therapy internship program on site where these fieldwork students lead sorting groups, work 1:1 with volunteers and help counselors to see possibilities they had previously missed.

These volunteers come to Afya, valued, enthused and invested, and work for 1 1/2-3 hours weekly on the sorting and packing of medical supplies. For some, this is their optimal level of functioning and we adapt the tasks at hand to help them find ways to compensate and use similar functional skills at home. For others, who make a wish for a change out loud, the OT students work closely with them to enact their wish and practice the skills needed to accomplish the goal at hand.

The recipients of Afya’s supplies abroad are also vulnerable populations. The community is worldwide with endless capacity for change and health.

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This program is generously supported by The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation and UJA-Federation of New York

Our Volunteer Partners Include:

Another Step
Ability Beyond
Community Based Organization Services
Devereux Adult
Devereux New York Cares
Hawthorne Foundation
Mosaic Mental Health
Opengate Inc.
S.A.I.L. Ferncliff Manor
Special Citizens Futures Unlimited
WARC Hawthorne
WARC Yonkers
Westchester School for Special Children
YAI Tarrytown
YAI Elmsford
YWCA White Plains and Central Westchester
Yonkers Public Schools

Our Occupational Therapy Graduate School Partners Include:

Columbia University
Dominican College
Hofstra University
Long Island University
Mercy College
Scranton University
SUNY Buffalo
Touro College
Towson University
University of Southern California
York College

“Meaningful Occupations” is a big concept in Occupational therapy. It’s the idea that engaging in an occupation that holds distinctive meaning to someone will help promote their health and well-being. Through their truly inspired and creative program design and mission, Danielle Butin and the staff at the Ayfa Foundation give new ‘meaning’ to the idea of meaningful occupations.  Volunteers come in to practice job and social skills, but they also discover the joy and satisfaction they can achieve by using their skills to help others. This is the reason I went into this field, and part of the brilliance of the Afya Foundation. Not only do they make massive contributions in relief work, they also provide volunteers, who might not otherwise have the opportunity, the revitalizing experience of helping others. My own experience was truly uplifting. You cannot participate in this experience and not come away inspired in some way.

Jacklyn Anderson


Afya is a magical place. The volunteers that give their time here seem to receive exactly what they need, whether it be training, a teachable moment, or the right person to talk to.
The staff are exceptional. It’s impressive to see all that Afya has achieved, and the lives it has reached, impacted, and healed. 
I learned valuable life lessons here and feel blessed to have Danielle as a mentor and confidant.          

Allison Schubert

Columbia University

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