Guiding Eyes for the Blind Logo Guiding Eyes for the Blind provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. We are passionate about connecting exceptional dogs with individuals for greater independence. Donate Now button
Text Size: A A A
Colors/Contrast:
ABC ABC ABC Other

Campus Volunteer FAQs

Got a question that’s not covered here?  Email your question to the Volunteer Department at volunteer@guidingeyes.org

On Becoming a Volunteer…

Q.  My son/daughter is under 18 and he/she really loves animals and wants to volunteer at Guiding Eyes.  Is there something he/she can do for you?  What if I volunteer with them?

A. For liability reasons, all on-site Volunteers must be 18 or older whether they are accompanied by a parent or not.  However, we have several at-home options for youth, all of which require a commitment of at least one year.  Please visit our Home Socialization and Puppy Raising pages for more information about possible options.

Alternately, a good local resource for youth volunteer opportunities is The Volunteer Center of the United Way – 914 948 4452.  They may be able to connect you with other local non-profits that offer youth volunteer programs.

Q.  I’m thinking of retiring next year and would like to apply to volunteer now.  Should I?

A.  We prefer that you wait until you are retired and have settled into your new routine so you can accurately assess your availability to assist us.

Q.  I live in Manhattan and I’d like to volunteer.  I know I can handle the commute and wonder why you think it’s too far?

A.  Ideally, Volunteers live within about a half hour (one-way) commute of our facilities.  Experience has shown Volunteers residing beyond this radius either find the commute too expensive long term or, the traffic and weather become too unpredictable and strenuous to continue.  Since Guiding Eyes relies heavily on their Volunteers to meet the day-to-day needs of the dogs and pups, Volunteers need to arrive on time for their Volunteer Session.

Q.  Can I volunteer as my schedule allows?

A.  There are a few in-house volunteer opportunities that are on an as-needed basis, and more flexible in terms of scheduling.  These include drivers and mailing Volunteers.  However, the majority of our in-house volunteer opportunities are on a regularly scheduled basis and require a commitment to volunteer for a set day and time each week.

Q.  I am thinking of volunteering. Can I swing by and tour the place first?

A.  You are welcome to join one of our regularly scheduled tours  however all potential volunteers attending orientation will receive a full tour of our facility.  Unfortunately, we are unable to offer private tours or permit unescorted visitors.

Q.  I’d like to apply to volunteer.  Can you mail me an application?

A.  All applications must be completed and returned electronically.  Once you complete your application online and click submit, it is transmitted electronically in real-time to our staff, who will be in touch with you once your application is reviewed.

Q.  Why is there such an extensive application process to volunteer? 

A.  We think our puppies and dogs deserve the best and we want our Volunteers to enjoy their volunteer experience with us and stay for a long time.  The multi-step application process helps to ensure a great match is made for both.

Q.  What is the most common reason for a Volunteer Application to be declined?

A.  In a word:  time.  If you are not able to commit to volunteering with us consistently to learn the essentials skills that you will need to operate independently then typically your application will be declined.  We find most Volunteers are successful when they assist us at least once a week, every week.

Q.  I would like to volunteer on a Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.  How long will it take for me to be placed as a Volunteer?

A.  The more flexible applicants are in their scheduling, the sooner they will be placed.

Q. If I volunteer with Guiding Eyes, will I receive special consideration if I want to adopt a released puppy or dog?

A. All applicants for released dogs and puppies are treated equally regarding their application process and wait time.

 

On Volunteering with the Dogs…

Q.  I heard you need volunteers just to play with the puppies/dogs?

A.  That is incorrect. With up to 180 dogs housed at our Training School Kennel and numerous puppies and dogs at our Canine Development Center, Volunteers are assigned to assist staff with cleaning the kennel, preparing food and treats for our dogs, bathing dogs, and providing enrichment for them.

Q.  I want to be a “dog walker”.  Do you need volunteers to do that?

A.  In addition to cleaning and food prep tasks, which typically account for 75% of their tasks, Volunteers may have a limited opportunity during each session to walk a few of our puppies and adult dogs.  Unlike a shelter, most of our dogs are exercised on a daily basis as part of their training by our staff.

Q.  Cleaning isn’t my thing.  Can’t I just play with the dogs or walk them?

A.  Unfortunately not.  Keeping our facilities clean and sanitary is of the utmost importance and where we rely the most on the assistance of our Volunteers.  Cleaning is a very necessary aspect of all volunteer positions in our kennels.

Q.  Does every volunteer position in the kennel require picking up poop? 

A.  Yes, hygiene is very important to us and anyone assigned to work directly with our puppies and dogs must be prepared to pick up poop and clean up any other accidents or messes.

Q.  Why do you have to lift up to 40 lbs to volunteer in the Kennels?

A.   Volunteers and staff alike need to be able to lift and carry heavy bags of food repeatedly and independently.

Q.  I have a bad back/knees/neck, but it’s not that bad… Can I volunteer in the kennel?

A.  No.  Volunteering in our kennels involves highly repetitive bending, lifting, kneeling and stooping.  Even the slightest problem can be seriously aggravated by these highly repetitive motions.  You might want to consider other volunteer options at either of our campuses, such as administrative work or volunteering with our visually impaired students.

Q.  Do Kennel Volunteers train the dogs to be guide dogs?

A.  No.  Kennel Volunteers are responsible for the care and feeding of up to 180 dogs.  Guiding Eyes has a staff of qualified guide dog instructors responsible for training the dogs to guide a blind or visually impaired person.

 

On volunteering for Community Service hours…

Q.  I/my son/daughter needs community service hours – fast!  Can I/he/she volunteer with you?

A.  Adults aged 18 years or older may apply to volunteer on-site with us however, because of our application and screening process, it may take up to 2 months for an individual to be placed as a Volunteer.  We also require volunteers to intend to commit to one full year of volunteering with us.  If this is court-ordered community service it must be for a misdemeanor (proof of judgment is required).

For liability reasons, on-site volunteers must be 18 or older whether they are accompanied by a parent or not.  However we do have several at-home options for youth, all of which require a commitment of at least one year.  Please visit our Home Socialization and Puppy Raising pages for more information about possible options.

Alternately, a good local resource for youth volunteer opportunities is The Volunteer Center of the United Way – 914 948 4452.   They may be able to connect you with other local non-profits that offer youth volunteer programs.

 

On volunteering with the Blind…

Q. I’d like to come in and read to the blind.  Can I do that?

A.  With a wide variety of audio books available, and adaptive technologies (such as email and cell phone apps), there is simply not a need for volunteers to read to our students.  They are also very busy training with their dogs in the short amount of time that they are here!  To learn more about other volunteer opportunities with our students visit our Student Services page.

 

On working at Guiding Eyes…

Q.  I want to work at Guiding Eyes.  What if I volunteer first?

A.  While some of our staff began their connection to Guiding Eyes as a Volunteer, Guiding Eyes does not give preferential treatment in hiring of staff to Volunteers.

Q.  I want to be a Guide Dog trainer.  Do Volunteers learn how to be trainers?

A.  No.  Guide Dog Training is a very specialized field.  Volunteers may learn simple basic commands while volunteering in our kennel, but they will not learn how to train a guide dog.