Volunteer Opportunities for Adults

Parent Q&A

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  • Volunteering to help Seniors?

    (3 replies)

    I'd been considering volunteering at a senior center or other similar location now that my kids are post- high school.  With COVID, those options are not available any more.  Does anyone have other suggestions for ways to help seniors feel less isolated in this moment?

    Here's an idea. My 92-year-old mother lives with us and she LOVES getting snail mail. She asks every day if the mail has come yet. How about sending cheery "Hello Neighbor" postcards to seniors who live near you? If they are like my mom, they will love it.  You could contact a nursing home or church or community center to see if they know of older people who need a penpal. Or maybe they'd agree to let you put up a sign in the elevator.  Also check in with Ashby Village https://ashbyvillage.org/ which is a nonprofit that assists older people to stay in their homes and has a lot of volunteer opportunities.

    I second Ashby Village recommendation.  I've been volunteering with them a couple of years and in this time, they continue to have volunteers do a myriad of things to help seniors stay in their own homes, from friendly calls, shopping for them, outdoor gardening, organizing virtual events to pet walking, etc.  Many opportunities based on your interest and availability.  Visit ashbyvillage.org for more info.

    So lovely that you’d like to do this. Ashby Village is amazing. Also, I actually work for a homecare agency called Senior Alternatives and we are looking for mature adults to pair up with seniors (for pay) to be a caregiver and companion. Hope you find something!

  • Volunteering from home

    (4 replies)


    I would like to contribute my expertise in writing and editing to an organization/cause devoted to social justice. I do not have time in my schedule to volunteer on-site or attend meetings, but I am eager to assist with projects that might need help with content development and editorial oversight.

    I have considered contacting organizations singly, but the thought of doing so is overwhelming and has led to paralysis: researching organizations, finding the correct contact person, formulating my query, etc. I am hoping that members of this community might offer some suggestions. I am an avid KPFA listener and supporter, so looking to connect with some of the more "radical" and truly progressive organizations in the area. Thanks for your ideas!

    You want to go to Volunteer Match: https://www.volunteermatch.org

    You create a profile with your skills, interests, etc. and they search through all the opportunities that meet your criteria. It's awesome. 

    Check out Tech for Campaigns (https://www.techforcampaigns.org/) - they put together remote teams including content people to help market progressive political candidates.

    Hi Momma-in-Oakland! I'm having an amazing time with the Coalition for Police Accountability in Oakland. Sometimes, we marvel at how much fun it is to work for such an effective organization with really good, resourceful people with a wide range of compatible skills. It's an all-volunteer organization that really gets stuff done. In 2016, CPA won MeasureLL, which created the strongest independent police oversight agency in the US. Policing in Oakland has a long and sordid history and we're working to establish equitable, just, constitutional, and transparent policing that builds the trust of the community. 

    Currently, we're working to support the police commission, outreach to impacted communities, and educate on people's rights when engaging with police (including using the new commission to file complaints). We definitely have writing and editing needs (go to our website CoalitionForPoliceAccountability.com to see the help we need to improve our messaging and resources). We need help writing and editing educational and campaign materials and grants proposals and research and writing policing policies. 

    It may not be what you have in mind in terms of radical, progressive local organizations but I would argue that in Oakland, demanding police accountability after 15 years of federal oversight is necessary and ensuring that our over-policed communities have a voice in shaping the future of policing is vital. You can reply to this message or contact us through the website. We're quite good at figuring out good assignments that meet the interests and skills of a volunteer. I hope you find a great, productive spot where ever you end up! anne 

    Hi my name is Sevgi Fernandez and I’m the founder of Together We Stand a nonprofit organization dedicated to dismantling racism and discrimination through advocacy, education and legislation. We are an all volunteer run organization and would love to discuss how you can help! We are currently gearing up to write a couple of grants and could really use help in that area.

    my email is twstherevolution [at] yahoo.com

    our website is TWSrevolution.org


  • Meaningful volunteer opportunity sought

    (13 replies)

    my husband and I are experiencing the strong desire to do some meaningful volunteer work- we want to feel as if we are really making a difference in someones' lives. We both have full time jobs but our schedules are very flexible. We feel as if we are just living life and not doing one thing of meaning.

    thoughts- suggestions- ideas appreciated!

    It doesn't get any more meaningful than CASA. http://www.casaofalamedacounty.org/


    I volunteer with No On Left Behind - a grassroots organization that helps Special Immigrant Visa holders get on their feet. I work directly with refugees that had to flee Afghanistan because they helped the US military. You can be a mentor, tutor, collect and deliver donated household goods, or be a job coach. Visit nooneleft.org to get more information. It has been hugely rewarding for me and my family and a real education.

    I encourage you to volunteer as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a child or teen in foster care. It is a weekly commitment for two years (or more) but completely flexible after you get through the training. Every county has a program; you can find yours here: http://www.californiacasa.org/

    I have been doing it for 8 years and find it very rewarding (and at times challenging and frustrating and sad, but definitely full of meaning!)

    If your desire to help extends to non-humans, I highly recommend volunteering at a local animal shelter. The gratitude of a dog who has been stuck alone in a kennel all day for weeks is very fulfilling and the help is desperately needed! Some shelters have more rigorous commitments than others but they all depend on volunteers to provide some quality of life for the animals while they wait to (hopefully) be adopted. It's also a great way to get out and get some exercise but if walking animals isn't your thing there are other ways to help as well.

    How about helping refugees get settled in the Bay Area? The IRC (https://www.rescue.org/announcement/how-volunteer-oakland), Refugee Transitions (http://www.reftrans.org/) and Jewish Family & Community Services (http://jfcs-eastbay.org/newcomer-refugees/) all do good work in this department. Most of them require a long-term commitment in order for you to develop a relationship with the refugees you're helping, but sometimes have shorter term projects, too.

    I work for a nonprofit called Reading Partners. If you are interested in working with elementary aged students in under resourced schools who need support in reading, I encourage you to consider volunteering with us! readingpartners.org

    Last year, my middle schooler and I started volunteering at Boost! in West Oakland once a week. Boost! West Oakland is a no-cost tutoring and mentoring program for K-5 students enrolled at Lafayette Elementary School in West Oakland. Since its inception in 1997, the program has served more than 2000 students. They pair you with an elementary-aged student to help them with homework, boost their skills, read to/with them, and just be an adult presence in their lives. We loved it so much, we're back for a 2nd year. It's the highlight of our week. http://www.boostoakland.org/

    Local public schools are always looking for volunteer reading/writing coaches. You can look at the Writer's Coach program through Berkeley High.  We also volunteer at the local animal shelter. Simple but very fulfilling.

    I have LOVED the Berkeley Food and Housing organization (https://bfhp.org/) for 25 years.  They serve a meal most days and have several shelters.

    I have had positive experiences volunteering with Refugee Transitions (http://www.reftrans.org/apply). There are several different types of volunteer options, which allows for some flexibility with your schedule (tutoring students after school or working with someone in their home). From my experience, the after school programs are mostly general school tutoring for refugee students and English language learners whereas the in home volunteering is more working on language skills with refugee adults who have recently arrived or tutoring/ study assistance on passing the naturalization test for those who have been in-country for a few years.

    I would first recommend volunteering in a Berleley public school near you, which can really make a difference to,both students and teachers ( as a former busd teacher I can say this with confidence). Also. Consider the homeless is a great organization I found out about through this very network. Good luck. Josie 

    7 or so years ago, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity. I was doing a Ph.D. at Berkeley and felt like I was in a campus bubble. I found Refugee Transitions on-line. I signed up for a one-time orientation that took place in San Francisco, and after that was on my way as an in-home literacy tutor to a newly arrived refugee woman from Burma. I met with a Burmese staff member in Oakland, who matched me with her because I told him I love children. The woman had three adorable girls, aged 2, 5, and 7. I drove to their tiny apartment in East Oakland once a week (committing to at least 6 months), and read with the mom/worked on English with her. In between those times, I got to know her family.

    Now the 2 year old is 9 years old. Between now and then, we've had Thanksgivings and 4th of Julys together, I've taken them to Children's Fairyland, the zoo, ice skating, Disney on Ice, on trips to the beach, and built countless memories doing birthdays and sleepover parties. When we met, I had a boyfriend. Now, my boyfriend is my husband and we have a 4 year old. My daughter adores those girls and the friendship they have. They are her only friends outside her economically-privileged Bay Area social group. We've gone with them to their Karen-language church, picked up relatives arriving at the airport from Burma, and been there helping as they moved from apartment to apartment to house. The relationship has been so very enriching to us. Being in a relationship with their family has been a window into their world AND it's built a crucial bridge for the refugee family across language and class divides. 

    If it wasn't for Refugee Transitions, how else would we have become life-long friends with a refugee family clear across town? RT connects refugees from Burma, Nepal, Uganda, Congo, Guatemala, Afghanistan...... everywhere, with in-home tutors (and some after school volunteer tutors). Please consider checking it out. 

    I would recommend the Davis Street Family Resource Center if you are in the San Leandro/south Oakland area. It is a child care provider, East Bay food bank, clothes closet, free medical clinic, counseling, and resource center. It also just combined with Stepping Stones, a disabled adult  center. There are so many activities going on there during all hours you are bound to find something that fits your interest. I have been involved for the past 20 years and find it extremely valuable. 510-347-4620. Davisstreet.org

Parent Reviews

There are a number of senior programs in the area that could use a volunteer.

The City of El Cerrito runs a food program, both in house and meals delivered. 

There is a Japanese based senior program, J-Sei, located in Emeryville, that prepares and delivers meals to seniors.  This program is very flexible, not very stressful, and is staffed with some very nice people.

If volunteering is a possibility, check out the websites for Ashby Village and Berkeley Schools Volunteers. 

Ashby Village is a peer-to-peer community that helps everyone who participates to age better.   Volunteering there is like paying it forward.  Imagine if you are aging in your own home and everything is fine except you need someone to change that lightbulb or drive you to a medical appointment.  That sort of thing. 

Berkeley Schools Volunteers does not involve childcare or teaching.  They need task runners, technology helpers, data entry, etc. 

Check out Volunteer Match! Lots of good opportunities that you can explore based on your partner's interests. For example, there is an urban farm that needs help! https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org845170.jsp

If volunteer work is an option too, they might try Berkeley Food Pantry. They're open 3 days a week to the public and one day a week for deliveries. Since volunteering is during the day during the week and their operations are almost all done by volunteers, they sometimes have a hard time getting enough help. But it's important and good work, feeding several thousand people each month with fresh and shelf stable food in Berkeley and Albany. https://www.berkeleyfoodpantry.org/get-involved

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Volunteering in Nursing Homes--Where to start?

Jan 2015

This may seem a dumb question, but I've tried various volunteering ventures over the years and they almost always fail. The organizations I contact are always so grateful for a volunteer, but they don't know how to utilize me (they never have a volunteer coordinator) so they simply don't follow through. I'm looking for a long-term commitment somewhere, which I've yet to find. I say all of this to set the scene for my question. I've always thought about volunteering in a nursing home, but am not sure how to begin. I'm nervous about apathetic staff and/or red tape keeping me out. I'm not sure what to do when I'm there. Have you, or has someone you know, volunteering in a nursing home? Any suggestions on how to get started? Should I just make cold calls until someone says yes? anon

If you're interested in volunteering with seniors, you might consider Ashby Village http://www.ashbyvillage.org. You can learn more at an open house January 25 http://www.ashbyvillage.org/content.aspx?page_id=87&club_id=748044&item_id=363435, or just call the office (see web page) for information about volunteer options. There's a volunteer training scheduled for Feb. 28 http://www.ashbyvillage.org/content.aspx?page_id=87&club_id=748044&item_id=382967. Ashby Village volunteer

This may not be exactly what you are looking for, but I urge you to consider it. There is fabulous nonprofit in SF called Shanti with a very well-established and highly regarded volunteer program. You would not be working in a group-style home, but rather would work one-on-one with a client facing a life threatening illness (either HIV/AIDS or Breast Cancer, you can choose what kind of client you would like to work with). As a volunteer, you would meet with your client once or twice a week, based on your availability and desire (it's pretty flexible). You can do things like help them around the house, pick up groceries, or just go for a walk and talk together. It sounds simple, but I can tell you from my own experience that it can truly be a life changing experience. If this sounds of interest, just go to their website shanti.org and sign up for their next volunteer training. Although I am no longer able to volunteer, I still keep in touch with my former client who is such a remarkable woman, and the relationship I formed with her was one of the most meaningful in my life. It was really a blessing to be able to serve another in that way. Former Volunteer

Volunteering with seniors is very rewarding and easy to do. Chaparral House in Berkeley welcomes volunteers and has a range of activites. I helped out with a Valentine's Day party and went on an outing to the Lawrence Hall of Science. Another option is Ashby Village. It is an organization that helps seniors remain in their homes as they age by providing volunteer services. There are so many different things you can do there. The staff is fantastic and the volunteer program is very well run. Lastly you can check out Love Is The Answer (LITA). They match volunteers and organizations. They will help you with choosing an opportunity and in applying. Organizations are hungry for volunteers. Please don't worry about being turned away! Here are the websites to check out. http://www.chaparralhouse.org http://www.ashbyvillage.org http://www.litaofcontracosta.org Julie

Try Chaparral House in Berkeley. They have a very good volunteer coordinator. A

You should call Chaparral House in Berkeley. I used to take my daughter there weekly when she was a baby just to say hi to the residents. The volunteer coordinator's name is Erika. I loved going there! wendy

You can identify skilled nursing facilities and other related org's that know how to wisely use a volunteer's skills and time by searching at www.volunteermatch.org. I just searched it for the word ''seniors'' -- the site listed 362 relevant volunteer roles in SF Bay Area. You can get even more granular and search on, say, ''seniors'' and ''music'' to find elder-care organizations that specifically want volunteers to help with arts activities. How great that you want to do this! Volunteers are the life-blood of nonprofit organizations [thank you to all the BPN volunteers!]. Alternately, you can contact your city's senior center, which will likely know of nearby opportunities. And if you want a list of top-rated skilled nursing facilities near you that you can contact directly, you can email me. Linda J

Becoming a Financial Literacy Volunteer

July 2013

I am interested in becoming a financial literacy volunteer. I do not have a formal background in finance or accounting but I am ''good with money'' and have been very lucky to have role models in my life who helped me navigate the world of personal finance. The Berkeley YWCA has a program but it seems like it is more for college students. Has any one had experience volunteering for the YWCA program or another financial literacy program in the Berkeley area? Middle-aged Mama Who Wants to Help Others Out of the Red

If you want to be a financial literacy volunteer and don't mind driving to Richmond, there is an organization there called Sparkpoint. They help with budgeting, starting a savings account, getting a job, etc. They could probably use a great volunteer like you. Their website is www.sparkpointcenters.org and their contact information is: 2727 Macdonald Ave., Richmond 510-779-3200. Sparkpoint fan

Volunteer Vacations?

July 2011

I am interested in taking a Volunteer Vacation. Has anyone out there ever done one of these? I want to travel, but find that I get bored and I want to immerse myself in the colture of some hidden village in Vietnam or help students in Africa. I have 2 weeks to play with. ddbrkly

Hi, I have spent over 10 years working in international development, and I understand your desire to take a 'volunteer vacation.' You want to do some good, and get to know a place more than just 'passing through' as a tourist. However, please keep in mind that volunteers--especially extremely short-term ones--actually impose costs on the host organization. They need to train you, match your skills with what they need, possibly help you find housing, give you guidance in terms of safety and local customs, just to name a few. (The reason Peace Corps requires a two-year commitment is because research shows it takes at least a year for a volunteer to get a handle on all of these things, so it's the second year where you can actually make a positive contribution to the area.)

So does this mean don't go? Not at all. It means be aware that your presence is actually imposing a cost on the organization, so you should be willing to offset that. The most common way to do so is through an intermediary agency that, for a fee, places international volunteers with local organizations that match your interests with their needs. The intermediary organization takes on the work of making sure that what you can do (teach English? Build a shed? Work in a daycare?) matches what a local organization actually needs during the timeframe you have, and also takes on the responsibility of your orientation, training, and finding housing. Usually, half of the fee you pay goes to the intermediary organization, and half goes to the group you volunteer with. In terms of what it costs, reputable organizations charge around $1000-$1500 USD for a short-term (under four weeks) placement. For example, check out Iko Poran http://www.ikoporan.org/en, an organization based in Rio de Janeiro. There are similar agencies all around the world; a quick Google search should be sufficient to find them.

But please--do not plan to just show up someplace and 'volunteer' for free. Remember that this is for YOU far more than the organization you want to help. If you really want to make a difference overseas, either donate money or plan a long-term volunteer trip of at least a year. Again, I don't want to discourage you at all! I just want to give you some information so that you can accomplish what you want--doing some good during your trip--without putting an additional burden on the organization. Feel free to ask the moderators for my email if you'd like more information, and have a great trip!

- seen the detrimental effects of 'voluntourism' too many times

http://www.volunteertibet.org/community/dharamsala.php I did some volunteering in Dharamsala, in Northern India, for around six months. But you may be able to find an opportunity for a shorter stay. Lisa in Oakland

Volunteering during the day near downtown Berkeley 

Oct 2010

I'm a housewife with a lot of time on her hands. I'd love to get involved in some charitable volunteer work during the days. Does anyone have any suggestions of any organisations that run daytime volunteer programs? Or have any experiences, positive or negative, of taking part in any voluntary schemes in Berkeley? Please note, I do not drive or have a car! A lot of voluntary programs I've been looking at do seem to require that. But I do live in Dwntn Berkeley so figure it really should not be that big a problem Would-be Do-gooder

Hi, it's great that you want to volunteer! A couple options come to mind right away: Habitot children's museum and all the great theaters in downtown Berkeley. But for a comprehensive list, check out the Volunteer Center of the East Bay http://www.helpnow.org/ you can search for opportunities within one mile of your zip code. You can also use their advanced search to specify what causes you care about: https://volunteer.truist.com/vccc/volunteer/search.aspx thanks for volunteering

The Berkeley Men's and Women's Shelters both serve meals to the homeless daily, and they need teams to volunteer to do that. I a part of a team that serves dinner once a month; you could ask if there is any need and either form a team or see if you can join one. That's just an occasional opportunity, but I'm sure many other people will come with great suggestions. It is so good of you to offer! volunteering

The Berkeley Public Library (the main branch of which is conveniently located right in downtown Berkeley) can always use volunteers! Library volunteer

If you live in downtown Berkeley,it would be great if you could volunteer at Washington Elementary School; a great public school on ML King Street, just west of the High School 9and my kids don't even go there!). Most public elementary schools would welcome adults who would like to help kids with their reading or math one-on-one during school hours. You would likely need to do the district's brief volunteer training an pay a modest fee to have your finger prints taken and checked for history of criminal activity. The volunteer coordinator at Washington Elementary or at the Berkeley Unified School District, itself, could tell you what is involved. It is GREAT to volunteer with kids that need a little extra attention with academics from a caring patient adult. And what a boost you get when yo see their work improve, in part because of what YOU did. I highly recommend it, as I get a lot out of volunteering at Berkeley Public Schools, myself. check out this site http://www.bpef-online.org/volunteer/volunteers/become-a-volunteer/ AND call Washington Elementary School directly at Phone: (510) 644-6310 and ask who you can talk to about volunteering. Here is their PTA website: http://washington.berkeleypta.org/ BUSD Mom

Please go to your nearest public school and volunteer your services. When I had day time hours free I volunteered in the library, helped kids with reading and math (the teacher would have them come sit with me in a separate room or at a desk off to the side of the classroom), helped accompany field trips, even helped take kindergardeners to swim lessons at the Y. I know Oxford school is often asking for volunteers to help with the school garden as they can't afford a full time person. BHS is worried about losing their full time tech person for the Community Theater. Lots of opportunities. cocosar

Here's one I've seen signs for that would be during the day and in your area (at Berkeley High): Writer Coach Connection trains community volunteers to provide one-on-one coaching support to students on their writing assignments. BHS English and history teachers schedule meetings with WCC writing coaches in from H102 during the school day and at lunch. In addition to classroom support, coaching is available to all BHS students on an appointment or drop-in basis during the lunchtime ''Writer's CafÈ'' in H102. The CafÈ offers snacks and drinks, and CafÈ regulars often enjoy working with the same coach to successfully complete writing assignments. Email contact is writercoachconnect [at] yahoo.com

If you like working with or at least around kids, volunteer at a public school! Our school is within walking distance of downtown Berkeley, and we always need extra adults to help with projects, whether it's paperwork in the office, being a reading coach for a kid who needs extra help, or volunteering in the library, helping to catalog and organize books. Alternately, if you prefer animals, call the local shelter and ask if you can help. Go read books to the elderly, if that's your comfort zone... Someone really needs you out there...go find them! Thanks for volunteering! Berkeley mom of 3

We are looking for volunteers for our child watch program at the Downtown Berkeley Y. We take care of kids while their parents get some exercise. You will be helping parents to be healthy and have less stress. The kids range from 2 months old through age 7. You may bring one child with you while you volunteer, and you do get to stay and exercise, too. We also have other volunteer opportunities at our Y and we are half a block from BART and close to many busses. Trudi P

I would try Volunteer Center of the East Bay. Their website provides much detail about hundreds of organizations around the East Bay. There is also Volunteer Match, but don't know as much about them. Good Luck...... anon

That is so awesome that you are reaching out to volunteer! Thank you! There are tons of volunteer opportunities at Longfellow Middle School, which both of my children attend. I can hook you up with the volunteer coordinator and I am sure she can find you any number of interesting, fun and valuable ways in which you can help. Anushka

Seeking volunteer opportunities with Preemies

Oct 2010

My son was born very prematurely last year in Boston. He's thriving now, and a lot of the credit goes to the wonderful care and services he received. The volunteers especially were amazing! We were gifted with tiny hand-made quits and knitted caps, support groups, all kinds of referrals, and even crib-side 'cuddlers' when we couldn't be at the hospital with our son. Now that my family is getting into something of a normal groove, I'd like to volunteer with a group that serves preemies and/or their families. We just moved to the East Bay, so I'm completely unfamiliar with the hospitals and volunteer organizations out here. Any recommendations would be warmly appreciated. Thanks, Janet

Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland http://www.childrenshospitaloakland.org/join/join_volunteer.asp anon

Volunteering ideas for writer

Aug 2009

I'd like to devote about a half day per week to volunteering. I work as a freelance copy editor and writer and would be happy to share these skills with a nonprofit. Ideally, I'd like to help an organization that focuses on women's issues. I'm not interested in doing any tutoring. Does anyone have a recommendation? Thanks for your ideas. Rachel

My sister, also a writer and copywriter, has been volunteering at the Women's Initiative for Self-Employment and really feels that her skills are helping other women. The Women's Initiative trains low-income women to start their own business...they often need help writing business plans and/or marketing materials, etc. Check them out at http://www.womensinitiative.org. Andrea

Did someone already mention the Writer-Coach Connection? They have a website at www.writercoachconnection.org/. It's a kick to meet these middle and high school kids and work with them to become better writers. It really makes you think about the fundamentals of what makes good writing. Plus the kids are great, and really need the help. Fiona H

There's a terrific organization based in San Francisco, Taproot Foundation, which provides consulting services (read: professional resources rather than $) to local nonprofits. The organizations benefit from the expertise of accomplished professionals -- marketers, software developers, project managers, graphic designers, copy editors/writers, etc. -- who work on high profile projects. Projects range from branding to database development to marketing communications/collateral development to Web site design and development and more. Volunteers can designate the types of organizations or causes of greatest interest, and then commit 6 hours per week once they join a project team. The work is largely virtual with a rare on-site meeting with the nonprofit clients. I've been a volunteer Account Director for a few years and am continually impressed by the organization, the volunteer talent, and the organizations we assist. Worth a look -- www.taprootfoundation.org. Good luck! Stephanie

Your local public schools could really use your help! Even if you don't call yourself a writer (or a teacher!): http://www.writercoachconnection.org/ Carrie

Volunteering with special needs kids

May 2009

I'm interested in working with special needs children as a volunteer. Does anyone know where I can volunteer once or twice a month? I'd also be interested in working with children with medical needs. I've tried Oakland Children's but their volunteer program seems like it's more of a time committment which I am not able to right now.

There is an amazing special needs group down in Milpitas that I have some experience with. It's called Jeena (www.jeena.org) and it was specifically created for South Asian kids and their families, but everybody is welcome. Oakland mom

Looking to Volunteer Locally

March 2009

I'd like to do some volunteering work around Berkeley or Albany, preferably with an organization that addresses environmental or social issues (I know that's broad). I don't have time to do office-type work during typical business hours, but I am able to do things after hours at home (i.e., proofreading/editing, writing, researching). Does anyone have any suggestions for a local organization that might need this type of assistance? If it matters, I'm a professional and have a J.D. degree. Anon

Yes, I have a suggestion for you: The Downtown Berkeley YMCA. We are the largest social service organization in Berkeley serving close to 17,000 people (when you include all the children in swim and sports classes.) Our members come from every ethnicity, age group, physical ability classification and social strata. A key principal we operate under is that no one is turned away based on their ability to pay, consequently a large number of our members pay lower monthly fees to be able to access our programs and improve their health, and their families' health. We are in the first stage of reforming our Membership and Marketing Committee and I'd love to talk to you about how you might be able to help us. Jenny W

Berkeley Art Center in Live Oak Park (off Walnut) is an amazing, under-recognized small charming facility, showing rotating art exhibitions, performances, and literary events. It has a new website: www.berkeleyartcenter.org and operates on a very small budget with some city funding. They always need all kinds of volunteers, for special events, database management, clean-up, installation, publicity distribution, etc. I highly recommend you check it out. They do also have a ''wish list'' of items for contribution, and will be posting it on their website soon, and/or it's available in their offices. Hours are W-Su, 12-5, but I think they're going to be open one evening until 7 to coincide with the farmer's market on Thursdays. Go visit them! hianhui

Looking for opportunities with teen parents

Nov 2008

I am a Certified Educator of Infant Massage and am interested in volunteering my time to work with teenage parents or low-income families who might not be able to afford to pay for the classes. Does anyone know a community organization or other such group I might contact? I would also need a space to use, as I would not be able to afford to do the classes for free at the space I traditionally use for my classes, due to the cost of rent. Thank you for your help!

there is a residential program for young, single mothers in oakland called casa vicentia. seems like a great place to share your skills. call 510-729-0316. haia

Try the infant parent program at children's hospital http://www.childrenshospitaloakland.org/healthcare/depts/pip_overview.asp

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

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 www.communityimpact.org

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

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 communityimpact.org, 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 www.psshelps.org, 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 volunteeronline.org. 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!

Oct 2001

I recently became aware of a web site called volunteermatch.org. 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