Volunteer Assembly: New York Common Pantry


At General Assembly, we pride ourselves on empowering those around us to find greater well-being in their daily lives, both in the classroom and beyond. At times, this growth can be inspired by something as simple as a healthy meal.

On a recent Tuesday, our team at GA NYC skipped its usual weekly Team Lunch — where we share a meal and learn about each other’s work — to help feed fellow New Yorkers in need.

For the second year running, team members swapped hairnets for funny hats, stacking up more than 500 sandwiches for the New York Common Pantry (NYCP). The nonprofit’s mission: “to reduce hunger throughout New York City while promoting dignity and self-sufficiency.”

Participants said they appreciated adding a little philanthropy to their workdays.

Volunteering with New York Common Pantry at General Assembly NYC

“I don’t volunteer in New York as much as I wish I did, so I’m glad that the opportunity came to me at GA,” says Diane Ly, senior content marketing copywriter. “Knowing that I was able to help dozens of people through the simple act of making sandwiches has made me realize how just an hour of my time can make a huge impact.”

Nick Siradas, a talent programs specialist on GA’s Human Resources team, agrees.

“Events like this bring people together from all over GA who might not normally get a chance to interact with each other on a day-to-day basis — all while doing something good,” he says.

Paired with healthy snacks and beverages, the sandwiches counted toward the 15,000+ meals the pantry hands out to its neighbors in East Harlem on weekends and holidays each year. Including these brown bag lunches, the pantry serves more than 2.9 million meals annually through its Hot Meal, Choice Pantry, and Live Healthy! programs.

Volunteering with New York Common Pantry

“The organization is only able to meet this great need thanks to the generosity of our donors and volunteers,” NYCP Volunteer Coordinator Jen Winter says. In fact, she adds, volunteers make up 45% of the pantry’s labor hours — almost 50,000 annually.

The event was just part of GA’s broader efforts to give back to its local communities worldwide.

“More than half of our global staff are involved in local volunteerism, and our campus teams regularly hold volunteer events in their communities — from beach cleanups in Santa Monica, Calif., to working with food pantries in Washington, D.C., or mentoring youth in Atlanta, Georgia,” says General Assembly’s Director of Social Impact Tom Ogletree. “Something that I recognized immediately when I joined GA was that everyone in our community is passionate about giving back.”

Giving back also means supporting diversity, inclusion, and access through GA’s regular programming and events. Aside from volunteering, GA’s 15 campuses have hosted several community-focused happenings so far in 2016, “from panels featuring black women entrepreneurs, to LGBTQ happy hours, to discussions with policymakers on building a more equitable education landscape in the United States,” Ogletree explained.

As we focus on educational and career growth around the globe, GA is committed to fostering the individuals and communities that we serve. Our global teams look forward to more opportunities to share, connect and give back in the months to come.

GA’s continuing social impact initiatives include our philanthropic Opportunity Fund and more.

Learn more about social impact at GA