Hearts & MindsSM - Information for ChangeSM

Community Service Requirements
Our policies on court-related and school-required

Although your volunteering with us may be required, your help will be appreciated!

Please clear your volunteering with us before you start. Otherwise, we may not be able to certify it. We do not want you to waste your time or run too close to your completion deadline. Of course, we also want to make sure that your efforts are of real value to the End Poverty CampaignSM or other public service work we do. A summary of our work.

Please also make sure our hours and other conditions are convenient for you: More info on volunteering with us. If not, we may be able to help you find volunteering elsewhere. Just ask.

Hearts & Minds always reserves the right not to accept or to discontinue working with any volunteer. If you discontinue with us, we still certify whatever hours you completed in good faith. Additional conditions apply to our acceptance of some volunteers as described below.

Volunteering outside our office
This is limited, but we sometimes accept work done outside our NYC offices, when what is accomplished matches the amount of time you report. We need you to report this periodically, so we can make sure we're on target.

We strongly recommend that you confirm in advance that remote volunteering is acceptable in your program. Not all of our activities can be done from outside our office.  If in doubt, just ask!

ID and timesheets
We also need to see the original and keep a copy of a government issued photo ID such as a passport or driver's license, proof of current address and phone number. This is important before your info session.

We provide time sheets to keep track of required hours and also will cooperate with any reasonable paperwork required.

We are happy to cooperate with the usual required paperwork from a school. We cannot issue official course credits for what you do here, but your school may. Please check with them.

Hearts & Minds does not charge fees for accepting school-required community service. 

In many cases, you can fulfill this at Hearts & Minds. We appreciate your considering volunteering with us. Some conditions apply:

We need to know in advance if your volunteering is court related. If we are not aware of this, when asked to certify volunteer hours completed, we add to all our other hours-confirmation letters, "This cannot be used for court-related community service."

In most cases, Hearts & Minds is not able to work with those who were accused or convicted of violent crimes, threats of violence, sexual offenses or threats, illegal weapons possession, possession of large quantities of illegal substances, most felonies, or any theft.

We require all court related community service volunteers to sign an affirmation that they have not been charged in the last 10 years and were never convicted for any of those crimes.

When we write letters to certify hours, we add a summary of the charges and accusations that you informed us. We also include a statement that not fully informing us should be considered a violation of trust, since we need to protect the wide range of individuals in our building.

We recognize this may create difficulties for some accused individuals, but our office is in a building used by people and groups of all ages including very young children. We accept volunteers as young as 14 years old. Also, we and others in this building have had thefts. We feel we have to limit what kind of volunteers we accept.

We may certify and specify that some of your hours were done outside our first-hand presence. In that case, we reserve the right to include this fact in our letter. We only certify hours that reflect work we approve in advance, and when we decide the time matches tangible accomplishments.

If you make false statements or are caught doing anything harmful here, we may actively report this to the authorities who deal with your case.

If you have difficulty finding a place to do community service, please ask the court for additional ways you can find a placement. On request, we will also try to help you find a place, even if we feel we cannot accept your volunteering with us. 

If anything is unclear or you're unsure whether we may accept your volunteering with us, before coming in, you can call and speak confidentially, directly with our president, Bill Blackman, at 1 212 280 0333.

Fees and donations
All court fees, fines and administration charges are your responsibility. Due to our limited budget, we do not pay any transportation expenses.

Court-related volunteers are usually required to make an initial donation of at least $100* by the start of their second day volunteering with us. If you are required to do (or end up doing) less than 100 hours, that donation should total at least $200*. If you end up doing more than 100 hours, the extra amount can be returned. No hours will be certified without this payment. Since this is a donation, it may be tax deductible, but that is a matter to be confirmed by your accountant and/or lawyer.

*Except as described above, donations are non-refundable. Your court charges do not count towards what we just described, but our amounts may be lowered for those who can show that they have a low income and/or receive substantial public assistance. Please request this before you start volunteering with us. All volunteers must donate something to our work.

If you are here more than one month, as with all our volunteers, you will be then be required to start donating monthly. This amount is flexible. There are no other charges from us.

Before you begin court-related community service with us, we need to see the original and keep a copy of official document(s) that clearly explain the reason for your service, specifying what the original charge/offense was and the decision of the court. We need a full summary of the charges in writing. If there was a motion to dismiss charges or a plea bargain, we need to know all the original charges, as well. Additional info may be required.

This information is kept confidential.

If the court documents do not clearly explain the alleged offense, we will ask for your permission to call the authorities or require you to get a letter from your lawyer. We may accept an email for this purpose, but even an email must include the lawyer and/or authority's full name, title, name of his firm and publicly listed phone number and address e.g. for his legal practice. This email should be sent directly to our president, Bill Blackman, at: greatchange at* gmail.com
*Please substitute the @ sign without the spaces before and after

Thank you for your interest in helping our public service work.

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