October 3, 2008 / 2:28 PM / 11 years ago

Wall Street Volunteers closes doors as turmoil intensifies

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As the turmoil in financial markets intensified, Wall Street Volunteers, an organization that connects financial professionals with nonprofit groups said it was suspending its operations.

Pedestrians walk past the outside of the New York Stock Exchange in New York's financial district September 16, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

In an email to members it explained that it did not have the resources to continue, but it hoped to relaunch sometime in the future.

It’s another sign of how Wall Street’s woes are having ripple effects beyond the investment community.

“Our team has concluded that we’re unable to provide WSV the resources — funding and personnel — necessary to fulfill its potential,” Wall Street Volunteers (WSV) wrote in the email.

“We wish the best for our members, partners, and friends during this difficult time for our industry and our economy, and look forward to working with you again in the future.”

The aim of WSV was for its members to develop lasting relationships with nonprofits and to encourage their friends and colleagues to volunteer, according to its website.

The hope was that this would also increase the amount of philanthropy among its members later in their careers, when they are successful executives.

Since its launch in 2005, WSV has connected a select group of nonprofit organizations with Wall Streeters who wanted to fit volunteering into their busy schedules.

WSV works with about 22 nonprofit partners, including Big Brothers and Sisters of NYC, the Burden Center for Aging and City Harvest.

Josh Tarasoff, the founder of Wall Street Volunteers, declined to comment further.

The Goldman Sachs alumni, who now runs hedge fund Greenlea Lane Capital, told Trader Monthly magazine earlier this year that even when he was logging 80-hour weeks at Goldman Sachs, he would volunteer and encourage friends to volunteer.

Tarasoff found that once friends were exposed to volunteering they would continue to volunteer and so decided to try his hand at replicating that on a larger scale, he told the magazine.

In May, Wall Street Volunteers had 2,500 members, the magazine said.

“We just heard from them on Monday and we were very, very sorry to hear that they were suspending operations,” said Jilly Stephens, executive director at City Harvest, a food rescue program which has worked with Wall Street Volunteers for two years.

“It’s a loss — nonprofits will really notice the loss of this group. The implications of what’s going on on Wall Street for the City has yet to be fully realized. I hope that the spirit of volunteerism doesn’t go away and that they’ll be up and running again soon,” she added.

Dan Blednick, of The TEAK fellowship, which aims to help talented New York City students from low income families gain admission to top high schools and colleges, agreed.

“They’ve been a great resource for us. It’s great to see a group of people so dedicated to giving back to the community. I was encouraged to learn that they are anticipating resuming operations once things settle down,” Blednick said.

Reporting by Kristina Cooke; editing by Patricia Reaney

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