Finding Volunteer Opportunities

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Volunteer opportunities for family with 4-year-olds

Nov 2008

We would like to instill the value and fun of community service in our family. We have four year old twins and would like to include them in volunteerism this winter. Do you know of any volunteer opportunities for our entire family? Thanks! Alison

If you can afford it, you might consider adopting a local very-low-income family in need through Compass Community Services ( The organization can try to match you with a family of specific genders/ages/#s of kids. It's not exactly an ''activity'' in the way you might have been thinking of, but your twins might enjoy the process of shopping, choosing clothes/toys for other kids, and thinking about what it means to not be able to buy these things for themselves. anon
Have you tried calling your local senior center/ home care center? Having children come through these facilities is like a breath of fresh air. I have heard of small groups or classes go through with magazines, songs or homemade treats (healthy of course) for the holidays. Good luck

Volunteering and bringing 10-month-old along

June 2007

Hi, I am a social worker (MSW) that is currently a stay at home mom. My daughter is 10 mos old. While I am not ready to go back to work yet, I was hoping to get involved in the community again and do some volunteer work. I am looking for recommendations/advice on places that are appropriate to volunteer at with my daughter, as I dont have anyone that I can leave her with at this time. Please let me know if you know of any organizations in the East Bay (close to Emeryville) Thanks... mina

Hello, I'm the director at the Berkeley YMCA running all of the youth and family programs. I wanted to let you know about a volunteering opportunity available to parents where they can bring their children. We have many volunteers in our Childwatch room. Volunteers work one 4 hour shift per week watching children in the Childwatch room along with the paid staff. They read stories, feed and diaper little ones, play and provide appropriate activities. This works to bring your child with you as long as your child allows you to interact primarily with other children. There are lots of benefits to doing this volunteer work, and if you are interested in hearing more about it, please contact the volunteer coordinator. She can be reached at 510-665-3273. Good luck finding the right volunteering fit for you and your family! Eden O.

Valentines volunteering for moms' club

Feb 2007

My moms club is looking for a group that would enjoy about 8-10 moms+kids volunteers near Valentines Day. We had signed up to visit a nursing home, but they cancelled due to a virus that is circulating. As such, we can't include any senior homes or hospitals...and now we're looking for some other location that might appreciate our volunteer efforts sometime in February. We are trying to find something kid-friendly (ie. a local firehouse in need of help? a library? other?). If anyone has any ideas, please let us know. Thanks! Local Mom

Hi -- I am not sure which Mom's group you belong to, but the Monument Crisis Center on Monument Blvd. in Concord is a great and worthy cause. They provide bags of food staples for needy families (mostly the working poor and children), tutoring for students and English as a 2nd language classes, counseling for domestic violence. I take my 3 kids there once a week and we bag beans and rice, diapers, make thank you cards for donations, etc ... I know that they sometimes have scout troops in to help for short periods, so it might be worth a check. Their number is (925)825-7751. What a great idea~!
One idea I've done with kids is to make and decorate heart-shaped cookies, and bring them to a homeless dinner to serve on or near V-day. For serving, it might be too much for all of you to go, but everyone can decorate and bake, and then a few can go to serve. Depending on age, time, and interest, you can do some of the steps ahead of ttime - make the dough, roll it out, cut it out, even bake it, and just leave decorating to the kids. Or, purchase ready-made plain sugar cookies, and decorate them. Every cookie will be unique. Call around to find out who would appreciate the donation. R.K.
You may want to try the Sophia Project in West Oakland. sophiaproject[at] Here's info from their website: They serve children and families who are at risk of recurring homelessness and its effects. They draw their ''inspiration and methods from the insights developed by Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf School movement. The approach recognizes that within each person exists a spark, connected to the wholeness of humanity. If this spark can be nurtured, nourished and protected in the first five to seven years of life, there is the possibility for the person to maintain a connecting thread to humanity through childhood, youth and adulthood despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.'' Keep up the good work!

Volunteering in the Hispanic Community

October 2006

My 15 year old son would like to volunteer in the hispanic community. His grandparents are Mexican but live in another state and he is feeling a longing to connect further with his heritage while being of service to others - specifically abuelos y abuelas. Please let us hear of your recommendations mama

He could try the Multicultural Institute, an after-school tutoring organization, or BAHIA preschool, both in Berkeley.
My organization, Lawrence Hall of Science, has a grant for outreach to Hispanic communities. For instance, we will be at the Dia de los Muertos event in the Fruitvale on November 5. We take a crew to such events to lead hands-on demonstrations, hand out information, talk to visitors, etc. Perhaps your son could be part of our outreach team. If you and your son are interested in learning more about this project as well as other opportunities for teenage volunteers at LHS, please contact me at the email below. Linda

Volunteering for baby cuddling

April 2006

Hi there - I was recently thinking how much I would like to volunteer time to hold babies that need the attention in hospitals, orphanages etc. I did some web searches and there is such a thing as Baby Cuddlers. There is a program in SF Childrens' Hospital. Does anyone know of similar programs out here in the East Bay? Thanks. Wanting to cuddle

oh my, your services are likely welcome at many inpatient hospital settings! the babies benefit and the nursing staff (pediatric nurse I am) appreciates your assistance soothing their patients as well. call children's hospital and kaiser hospital, both of which are in oakland. think bigger hospitals with an inpatient icu. good luck. volunteers make the world go round
A friend of mine does this one half-day a week at Highland Hospital. I think it requires some committment of time. JM
The Oakland Children's Hospital has one of these programs. At least they used to. But the waiting list is very long. Unfortunately, I think that is true of most facilities, as you can imagine this is a popular volunteering program. anon
I know that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Alta Bates sometimes has volunteers who come in and hold the babies, give bottles, etc. During the month that my twins were there, I didn't actually see very many volunteers though. I think they could use more!
This is a great thing to do. I volunteered at Children's Hospital in Oakland about 11 years ago in their intensive care nursery and also on the regular unit. In the intensive care nursery I held babies that really needed it. (Of course they all needed it.) Some of them were born drug addicted or had other problems. It was such a rewarding experience. Sometimes I was with older kids, but I believe you can state your preference to be with babies, or to be in the intensive care nursery or not. They have a training for new volunteers. Call them up and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator. Good for you for giving your time in this most important way. loved being with the babies who needed holding
I know Children's Hospital in Oakland has some people who do this - when my 5-week-old son was there last fall, it was so sweet to come back from a much-needed but guilt-inducing break and have a nice little old lady tell me she'd been holding my baby while I was gone. I think they may want you to start out volunteering in other ways and work your way up to baby- cuddling, but give them a call and see. The Volunteers Office number is (510) 428-3471. JP

Volunteering With Toddler

Dec 2004

I am searching for info on organizations that allow small children to be involved with their parents' volunteer efforts. I have an almost two year old and have many parent friends & toddler friends who would like to get involved in community volunteer work all together. Does anyone have organizations to recommend, experiences to share, or tips to pass on? Thanks very much. Alison

On Thanksgiving we signed up with Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly to visit seniors who were alone for the holiday. We took our 2 and 1 year olds and we all had a great time at the Laguna Honda Hospital. The elders loved being with the kids and the kids loved being the center of attention. We will be spending all holidays volunteering through this program. Elizabeth

Want to use my skills for volunteering

Jan 2004

I would like to do some volunteer work in some areas of skill that I have. Namely, I am a certified Aesthetician and would like to get involved in helping disadvantaged women who are getting back into the workforce with makeup/skin care lessons. Also, I love to read (used to do summer Shakespeare Rep) and would like to do reading for the blind or visually impaired. San Francisco has an organization called the Lighthouse, however, they currently do not need any volunteers. Does anyone have any suggestions on what organizations I might contact with my skills? florinda

I just found a fabulous resource for anyone who wants to do some volunteer work, but is not sure how to go about it. Its called Community Impact, at

CI coordinates fun and well-organized volunteer opportunities for non-profits throughout the Bay Area. You can sign up for any of the dozens of interesting volunteer events on their website, such as arts & crafts with disabled kids, reading and handing out books at literacy events, helping serve meals to the homeless, tutoring at disadvantaged elementary schools, restoring parklands, as well as behind the scenes stuff like putting up flyers, assembling mailings and organizing offices. You can volunteer as much or as little as you like, and there are usually opportunities every night of the week as well as mutiple weekend projects. If you want to do something for the community, but don't feel like you can make a regular committment, this is a great way to do somthing fun and flexible. Tara

Family of 4 wants to volunteer in the community

November 2003

I would like recommendations of where our family of four (two children 9 & 5) could volunteer our time doing community service projects. We are not members of any church and are not necessarily looking for a church to join. We just want to be able to be involved in providing some good within the community and teach our children the value in this. We live in North Berkeley. thanks

Every year we volunteer at the Richmond Rescue Mission, either to help with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, or to help wrap Christmas gifts for children. They are a Christian organization but do not preach to you about it. Call them, because their sign-up sheets, esp. for the gift- wrapping sessions, books up fast. anon
Hello, You can use VolunteerMatch ( It's free, it's easy and it uses your ZIP code to find an opportunity in your area. On the search form you can check the box ''great for kids'' to find opportunities that welcome kids. An Active Volunteer
Go to Plug in your zip code, then click on ''refine your search'' to tell how far you are willing to travel, and that you want opportunities suitable for kids. They will come up with opportunities that match your preferences.

If you are specifically interested in helping at homeless/shelter meals, get info at (if this doesn't work, Google berkeley homeless meals, and select the option starting Berkeley Free Clinic). R.K.

Volunteering for an organization that helps children

Sept 2003

Has anyone volunteered for or do you know of (and can you recommend) an organization that benefits children? I really want to volunteer some time for kids, especially for an organization that prevents/deals with child abuse. I have a toddler and plan another baby in a year or so, so can only volunteer for a few hours per week for now. Any recommendations? Thank You! Jamie

You might want to check out, a great resource for one-time volunteer projects. Signing up for a project through Community Impact is a good way to find out if you like the type of work and organization before making a longer-term commitment. I just checked their website and they have lots of kid-related projects going all over the Bay Area. Good luck! Annelisa
I highly recommend that you check out Parental Stress Service in Oakland, they are a child abuse prevention agency that focuses on teaching positive parenting skills. They have a hotline and are in need of volunteers-- no previous experience necessary. You can check out their website at, the volunteer info is under ''giving'', or contact Debora Roca at (510) 893-9203 ext. 321 for more info. Kate
I am planning to volunteer too! I just heard on the radio that if you don't know what to do and can't commit many hours, you can call or look up East Bay Volunteers (I think that's the name). They will give you a list of activities and dates and you can choose what you want to do, even if it's just for one day. I heard this on the radio the other day. I hope I've given you the right information. (If you do get in touch with them, maybe you could post the info for other people like me?)
Try I found TWO volunteer gigs and I only had two 3 1/2 hour slots available each week while my toddler's in preschool. I did a search by just typing ''Oakland'' and 800 listings popped up. I narrowed that down to things that caught my eye and started making calls. In total, the search took about an hour, the calls a little less, and after three meetings I selected the orgs that had the most need for the skills I was offering. Go for it!

Summer volunteering for 9-year-old

July 2003

I am looking for opportunities in which my nine-year-old son could volunteer his time this summer. I was thinking along the lines of his working with younger children (reading stories, helping physically challenged children...something similar) I don't know whether anything like that exists for children as young as 9, and I would certainly be able to supervise him, but I would appreciate hearing about such an opportunity. Thanks.

I think there's something at the Albany library where older kids read to pre-schoolers. You might want to call them. Mary
Oct 2001

I recently became aware of a web site called Its purpose is to match volunteers with volunteer opportunities based on your geographic location. You type in your zip code and choose the type of volunteer work that interests you (Animals, Children, Women, etc.) and it will show you the opportunities available. You can also register your group if you are in need of volunteers. This site has won two 2001 Webby Awards for Best Activism Site and Best Services Site. Most of the links that you will see may not be appropriate for a teenager, but some will. Good luck! Janet