Since 1992, Big Apple Greeters has been sending volunteers to conduct free tours of the city through the eyes of a New Yorker. Over 300 volunteers conduct tours in 22 languages, but the kind service is in danger of stopping if they can't raise $300,000 by the fall. Founder Lynn Brooks told the Daily News, "We have to pay for very little... but it's a huge infrastructure to get the right volunteer meeting the right visitor in the right language in the right place in the right time." She even gave up her salary a few months ago.
Though the non-profit service needs just $600,000 a year to operate, both corporate and individual donations have dried up recently. Guides have recently begun asking for donations from tour groups, and the website is asking friends and supporters to donate $25. They say, "Since 1992, our goal has been to let visitors know what we know -- New York City is friendly, fun and exciting. Now 18 years later, Big Apple Greeter has met its greatest challenge -- to keep our free program alive."
Brooks began Big Apple Greeters in an effort to prove that the city does have its fair share of friendly people. Volunteers are matched with visitors, and often take them to neighborhoods and attractions the average tourist would overlook. Since starting, over 15 similar greeter organizations have popped up around the world. Brooks said, "It would be a crazy situation if there were 15 programs around the world based on New York's and New York's didn't exist anymore."