Get Involved


Help Others Succeed

Open Door Volunteers inspire and motivate by teaching students the skills they need to succeed. In 2016, 50 volunteers contributed 2900 hours and provided 1600 hours of classroom instruction for our students.


Weekly Teacher
Volunteers teach the same level and class once a week for a semester, in their preferred subject area: ESL, Computers, TASC Math, of Children’s literacy.  Spanish is not necessary, except for the TASC class.

Substitute Teacher
Volunteers step in when our regular teachers have scheduling conflicts. Substitute teachers allow students to continue their learning all semester.

Volunteers administer written and verbal placement tests, and welcome new students to our program. This need is especially great each fall, when over 400 students register for class.

Running Coach
Volunteers motivate and lead runs with students (1-13 mile runs) to prepare them for The Open Door’s annual half-marathon, as well as smaller runs throughout the year. This is a powerful way to build students’ confidence and build community.



How to Volunteer:

Request an application at info@theopendoornjny.org or fill out the form below

Attend a training

Observe a class

Name *

What Our Volunteers Say

“I enjoyed connecting personally with my students. Their stories are filled with struggle, yet what shines most is their hope and motivation to learn and make better lives for themselves.”
-Sylvia Kim, Basic Level Teacher


“What motivates my students is to spend time with their children, help with homework, communicate with their teachers.  Simple things like this, that I have often taken for granted, are what motivate me to continue to give back.”
-Erin Hamil, Level 2 Teacher

Meet our volunteers


As we bring the community together through English classes and programs to help immigrants reach their God-given potential, we are delighted to work with over 40 volunteers each week who make that possible. We are thankful for our volunteers’ hearts to serve and care for their students.  Let us introduce you to a few of these wonderful people we get to serve with each week!

Meet Lori

Lori Lawrence lives in Hoboken, NJ. She is a Physical Therapist and a member at Redeemer Hoboken. Lori has been volunteering with The Open Door since the very beginning, and we are so grateful for the dedication she brings. Lori says,


“My Christian faith urges me to love my neighbor and practice hospitality. I am pleased to be associated with and learn from people who have the wisdom, love and experience to make these good intentions a reality.”

Teaching is one way Lori extends hospitality to the community. She shares,

“My favorite thing is getting to know a group of new neighbors each year. I am always impressed with their dedication to learning and really becoming a part of their new home. It's always fun to see community develop within the class. The students are very kind, generous and encouraging of one another. Having been around for several years it is also great to see former students persevering and making progress year after year.”

As we endeavor to help students grow in community and reach their English language goals, we are grateful for volunteers like Lori who make that possible!

meet emily

Emily Litman is a middle school teacher for Jersey City public schools and works with the Port of Entry program for Spanish- speaking youth. She has been volunteering with Open Door from the first organizational meeting! Emily’s care for her students is evident. She shares,

“Being a part of the Open Door has helped me feel like I am contributing in a small way in making immigrants feel welcome in my community. I am inspired by their grit and determination to succeed. They come straight to class after work shifts that many people I know would not be able to handle. Yet their desire to learn pushes them in ways we could all learn from. I have learned more from my students than I think they have learned from me.”

Volunteering has also led to some neat global connections for Emily. “Last year, when visiting Havana, Cuba, the wife and son of one of our Open Door students invited me to their home - giving me the chance to spread the love of Open Door across borders. It was such a unique experience.” Whether at home or abroad, these global, cross-cultural connections bring communities together, and we are so grateful for volunteers like Emily who are committed to not only teaching, but learning from students as well.

emily litman.jpeg

Meet Lindsey

Lindsey is an NYC School Teacher and has been volunteering with The Open Door for 2.5 years. She initially decided to volunteer after realizing “most of what I was doing with my time was centered on me - making brunch plans, running errands, etc. I had volunteered a lot in college and wanted to get in the habit again.”

Lindsey photo.jpg

As a volunteer English teacher, the majority of her students recently arrived to this country and are working to learn English skills.

“I remember the first night I had to go to class, I thought - why did I sign up to do this?  I'm so tired!  But the students gave me so much life and energy in class - they were happy to be there and really warm.  It's the best part of my whole week.”

Improving English language skills isn’t the only goal at The Open Door - we strive to create a welcoming community as well, building bridges across cultures through friendship between students and teachers. As Lindsey shares,

“There are so many nights where I find myself cracking up!  We had a game night last year and this year - that's always really fun.  We played charades and one on the students keep forgetting and saying the word out loud!”

Lindsey notes that it's a privilege to get to live that out the conviction to support the immigrant community each week by serving with the Open Door and getting a better understanding of the immigrant experience in NYC.

Resources for Current Volunteers


The ESL curriculum this year is National Geographic's Standout series.  To access online video, audio, and testing materials:

  • Go to http://ngl.cengage.com/sites/stand-out/teacher and enter username: standout, password: teacher.  
  • You will find:
    • Audio and Video links to stream in class
    • Under the Documents Tab, a pacing guide to plan your lessons for the year
    • Under the Documents Tab, scripts for the audio and video files
    • Under the Activity Bank Tab, multilevel worksheets to tailor the lesson to students of varying levels in your class.


The Open Door's Spanish language GED curriculum: Level 1 and Level 2.


The computer class uses www.grclearnfree.org for its curriculum.  We teach Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

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