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Volunteers give more than their time—they give their hearts. Whether you’re a chef, an architect, a writer, or a graphic designer, there are vast and varied volunteer opportunities in San Francisco for you and your skill set.
At Zeus Living, we know how important it is to be involved with your community. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 13 ideal volunteer opportunities in San Francisco Bay Area. Let’s take a closer look at volunteer needs in the city—from art therapy to elderly companionship—and help you find a volunteer position that’s in line with your passions.
The St. Anthony Foundation helps to feed and clothe San Franciscans in need. Over six decades, this foundation has served 42 million people, making it a longtime staple for volunteer work in San Francisco. St. Anthony welcomes about 12,000 volunteers annually from different parts of the community and has a variety of opportunities available depending on skill set, interest, and availability. This nonprofit organization serves meals, helps with addiction recovery, provides fresh clothing, and offers a rewarding volunteer experience.
Friends of the Urban Forest is ideal volunteer work in San Francisco for those who love being outside and in nature. With a mission to bring neighbors together to plant and care for the city’s urban landscape, this group cares for street trees and sidewalk gardens. With this “green infrastructure,” volunteers beautify the neighborhood, clean the air, and reduce polluted stormwater runoff. The group volunteer program has been running since 1981, and since that time has planted over 60,000 trees—a total of half of the city’s street trees.
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in San Francisco that have to do with food service, consider Project Open Hand. With its Community Nutrition Program, this organization helps serve meals to seniors and adults with disabilities at centers located across San Francisco and Oakland. As mentioned on the website, food is the medicine that helps the Project’s clients recover from critical illness, regain strength, and lead healthier lives. The nonprofit organization relies on the help of over 125 volunteer individuals every day to help prepare, package, and deliver meals made with love. Volunteers also distribute groceries to sick and elderly neighbors, and help with special events throughout the year.
Project Homeless Connect is volunteer work in San Francisco that makes a big impact. Thisorganization utilizes connections between businesses, city agencies, and the community to help San Franciscans experiencing homelessness, as well as those who are transitioning from homelessness to housing. With the help of dedicated and passionate volunteers, Project Homeless Connect brings essential or hard-to-access services to adults and kids who are living on the streets. The nonprofit’s core purpose is to provide connection and care that lead toward an end of homelessness and to help build a city filled with compassion. There is the option of both individual or group volunteering, with everything from Outreach Walk volunteers to office administration volunteers, depending on desired level of time commitment.
If you’re looking to use your culinary skills to volunteer, San Francisco Food Bank is always looking for hands-on help. For this organization, volunteers’ time and dedication are important resources in the fight against hunger. Warehouse volunteering typically involves sorting fresh produce, packaging bulk foods, assembling grocery boxes for seniors, and sorting donations from food drives into a food pantry. There’s also the option of delivering fresh groceries, for which volunteers load up their cars and bring groceries to those receiving in-home help on a weekly basis. You can volunteer on a long-term basis with weekly pantry distributions, or rally your friends and family together and host a food or fund drive.
If you have an enthusiasm for repair and renovation, this might be your idea of perfect volunteer work in San Francisco. Rebuilding Together San Francisco provides home repair and renovation programs for homeowners, renters, nonprofit organizations, and community spaces to create safer and healthier neighborhoods and make it possible for people to live in their own homes for longer periods of time. The organization focuses on providing a family-like and fun space for its volunteers. You can volunteer individually or on team projects, or share your ideas and expertise across a range of rebuilding projects.
With the nationally acclaimed UCSF Art for Recovery program, volunteers train to learn how to help those dealing with life-threatening illnesses to express themselves through art. Depending on your area of interest, there are different ways volunteers can help support healing through music, writing, quilting, or collaging. The idea is to address the mind and spirit to allow those coping with illness to express their creative spirits. If you’re an artist—or someone who enjoys the arts—on the hunt for rewarding volunteer opportunities in San Francisco, look no further. This program is important to its volunteers and interns, its patients, and the overall heart of San Francisco.
Perfect for the volunteer who loves reading and writing, 826 Valencia Street dedicates itself to helping children and young adults develop writing skills. It focuses on supporting under-resourced students (from ages six to 18) with their creative writing skills. This nonprofit offers more than 4,000 hours of programming every year, and publishes books, magazines, newspapers, and student writing. Volunteers are the heart of what it does, and as it continues to grow, it’s looking for volunteers who can tutor in their youth programs. It’s also looking for illustrators, designers, photographers, and audio editors to help spread the word and amplify students’ voices.
Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly is a volunteer-based organization that serves to help seniors living alone in San Francisco through enriching experiences. It serves people who are over 65 years of age to reduce isolation and loneliness. Volunteers assist behind the scenes with grant writing, event planning, organizing, and outreach, or become Visiting Volunteers, visiting an elder friend twice a month for a year-long commitment. There’s also the Occasional Visits volunteers, a large-scale program where volunteers do a once-a-month visit. There’s no regular commitment for the latter volunteer program, and each is important to the overall program’s success. Programs include holiday home visits, medical escorts, special excursions, social functions, birthday visits, and more.
For surfers, swimmers, and beach-lovers, the Surfrider Foundation offers volunteer work in San Francisco that lets you connect with the ocean you love. Volunteers of this well-known organization act as stewards of the Pacific coastlines and beaches with cleanups, events, and management solutions. If you’re dedicated to protecting the environment and finding creative ways to prevent plastic pollution, the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is the perfect place to do so. With a chapter meeting on the first Tuesday of every month and three beach cleanups every month, there are plenty of opportunities to take part in the foundation and put your volunteer skills to use.
Ronald McDonald House has two locations in San Francisco, each with a mission of providing support and access to medical care for families with critically ill children. Volunteers help families focus on the health and well-being of their children and offer support through cooking meals, cleaning, and spending time in the activity rooms. There are volunteer opportunities for both individuals and groups, and a variety of meaningful ways you can contribute your time (both solo and as a team).
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing organization that works with local communities across 50 states. If you’re searching for volunteer opportunities in San Francisco that help families through affordable housing and home repairs, and revitalize parks, gardens, and public spaces, Habitat for Humanity offers a rewarding way to spend your days. There are ongoing opportunities in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin County, like Playhouse Prep Support and Community Garden Beautification.
Addressing senior hunger and isolation, Meals on Wheels is regarded around the country as a leading nonprofit organization. It recognizes that senior hunger and isolation is a growing problem in America, and in San Francisco, it’s working alongside volunteers to combat this serious problem. If you’re looking for a food-focused organization to volunteer with, consider dedicating your time as a delivery driver to improve the health and happiness of San Francisco’s seniors.
At Zeus Living, we hope this list has inspired you to take a closer look at ways you can get involved in San Francisco. Whichever one you choose, we know you’ll find the perfect place to volunteer and make a difference in your community and in the world. If you’re looking to get some work done while you’re in the area, check out our guide to the best coworking spaces in San Francisco to make your work run smoothly.