How to get started and where to volunteer?
Feeling part of the greater community is a breath of fresh air, not only for those you are helping, but for you as the volunteer as well. It’s scientifically proven that giving provides more endorphins than receiving. So it’s a true win-win for everyone when you volunteer for something you’re passionate about.
Volunteering can feel intimidating for some and it can be difficult to know who needs help and what you can do. We all have our own unique skills and interests so the best place to start is accessing what you feel a pull towards, a passion, or something relative to your life then focus on those types of organizations and volunteer needs.
If your heart is in the right place to start with then the efforts and hours you’re giving won’t feel like work at all!
Follow your instincts and determine what you have a passion or interest in.
There are volunteer needs for just about everything you can think of!
Think about your skills – Are you Handy? Creative? Outdoorsy? People-oriented? Organized? Social Media gifted? A Writer? Strong? Full of Energy? Patient? A good Listener? These are all great skills different organizations could benefit from.
Below is a list of Local Organizations in Santa Cruz I created – most of which I have personally worked with – to help get your volunteer-juices flowing.
MBOSC – Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz – MBOSC.org
For the Trail-users and outdoorsy types
Are you a hiker, biker, horseback rider or trail jogger in Santa Cruz? If so, you’d undoubtedly enjoyed the incredible trail system that Santa Cruz County has to offer. Our community is unique to have such an expansive array of mixed-us trail options from the cliffs to the mountain peaks all around us. MBOSC was founded in 1997 to support, preserve, and expand sustainable trail access in the Santa Cruz area and beyond. With educational seminars, trail work opportunities, DIG days (these days are a lot of work, but are really fun too!), mountain biking races and more, this organization is an excellent opportunity to support a local nonprofit and truly give back to the community.
Santa Cruz SPCA – SPCASC.ORG & Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter – SCANIMALSHELTER.ORG
For the Animal-Lovers, Organized and People-Oriented types
Every community has it’s set of animal shelters & it’s share of animal lovers too! These two organizations are unbelievably hardworking, passionate and full of wonderful ways to give back to our furry friends. These organizations both have volunteer needs ranging from office work, photography, adoptions, fostering, vet services, youth programs, events, community outreach, teen programs, animal care and beyond.
The Santa Cruz SPCA is a locally ran non-profit dedicated to the welfare of animals in the community. They receive no government funding and depend solely on the community to remain in operation. I personally volunteer as a photographer and foster here and support this organization whole-heartedly. The SPCA mainly fills the need as an overflow animal shelter for our community and others. With their much-needed brand new shelter nearly finished, their needs will soon dramatically expand if you are looking to volunteer!
The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter has an open-door program and is the main animal focused resource for the entire County. From drop-offs, adoptions, licensing, disaster pet care, low cost vet services, pet food pantry, community outreach, humane education, complaints and reports of abuse/neglect, wildlife issues plus more! With no animal ever being turned away and so many responsibilities, this shelter is highly effective and can always use an extra set of hands.
Save Our Shores – SAVEOURSHORES.ORG
For the Beachcombers, outdoorsy, ocean-saving types
Save Our Shores is a dedicated organization focused on advocating, supporting and keeping our coastline healthy and clean.
“From policy change to educational programs, we’re ensuring ocean conservation throughout the community. Our programs and projects are designed to support the foundations of a thriving Monterey Bay: clean shores, healthy habitats, and living waters.”
Save Our Shores offers beach day cleanups, educational seminars and other local events. If you love the Monterey Bay, spend a day or two out on the beach helping their efforts – this a low commitment volunteering gig, great for all ages!
Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay – HABITATMONTEREYBAY.COM
For the Handy & Project-oriented types
“Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay is an independent locally operated and funded affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Our mission is to build decent, affordable homes and provide home ownership opportunities to qualified families who live and work in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.”
This organization is dedicated to helping hard-working homeowners in need of home repair assistance in a variety of ways, keeping people in their homes and helping new families create a home out of a home in disrepair. As a volunteer you could assist with construction projects, help at their store or with office work, or get involved with their community events!
Santa Cruz Volunteer Center – SCVOLUNTEERCENTER.ORG
For the Community-minded, Patient, People-Oriented & Organized types – there’s something for everyone here!
The Santa Cruz Volunteer Center is a place where Nonprofits in the entire county can ask for volunteer help for just about anything! Ranging from the recent fire evacuation centers to holiday help, and from food delivery to helping seniors, the tasks listed are based on needs in the community at any given time. This is a great place to start if you’re looking for an easy way to try out a new volunteer role or organization.
Enjoy getting involved and giving back!