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Inside San Francisco

Inside San Francisco (Sep 25th, 2019)

Good morning,

As promised, here's a roundup of local nonprofits currently looking for volunteers in San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Whether you want to get involved with an organization or not, please forward this newsletter onto a friend, colleague, neighbor or family member who you think might be interested.

Enjoy,

Shane

1. Community Grows (@CommunityGrows)

The movement behind Community Grows started more than two decades ago when volunteers came together to clean up Koshland Park, in the Western Addition. Through grassroots efforts, the group raised $2 million for the renovation, which allowed it to add an expansive community garden and learning center. Community Grows has since renovated 10 more San Francisco parks into useable open spaces and community gardens, and the organization serves more than 1,200 youth each year through its programs.

The nonprofit uses its network of community gardens to teach kids about where their food comes from, offer healthy cooking classes, and teach visitors how to grow their own produce. If you’re interested in volunteering with Community Grows, send the organization a message here.

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2. Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (@FriendsSFPL)

If you missed last week’s Big Book Sale (the West Coast’s largest book sale), it’s not too late to get involved in next year’s event. It’s hosted by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and with over half a million used books and media on sale, it takes hundreds of volunteers to make the annual fundraiser for the city’s public libraries a success.

According to the organization’s volunteer services manager, Kelenia Olsen, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library is always recruiting volunteers for its donation center, book stores and special events. For more information on the organization’s individual and group volunteer opportunities, check out their volunteer page (or apply here).

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3. Friends of the Urban Forest (@SFUrbanForester)

Friends of the Urban Forest’s mission is to bring neighbors together to plant and care for San Francisco’s trees. Since 1981, the nonprofit has organized staff and volunteers to plant more than 60,000 trees, totaling almost half of San Francisco’s street tree canopy.  

According to Atalanta Kyriazi, Friends of the Urban Forest’s volunteer manager, there are tree planting events every other Saturday. “All of our events are listed on a calendar here, and volunteers can sign up for events once they click on it,” Kyriazi told me.

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4. Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly (@LittleBrosSF)

With some 25,000 seniors living alone in San Francisco, Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the city’s elderly. “Service to the elderly begins by being a friend,”LBFE’s volunteer coordinator, Debbie Uchida, wrote me. “We strive to relieve isolation and loneliness among the elderly by welcoming and encouraging volunteers to build friendships and provide companionship to older adults who are in need of social interaction." 

According to Uchida, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteers to get involved in LBFE’s programs. If you’re interested, check out LBFE’s volunteer page, or sign up to be a volunteer here.

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5. Project Homeless Connect (@PHCSF)

Project Homeless Connect connects San Franciscans experiencing homelessness with the care they need to move forward. The organization’s 75th Community Day of Service is coming up on Wednesday, October 16, and the nonprofit needs volunteers.

“The Project Homeless Connect Community Day of Service is a one-stop shop service event where individuals experiencing homelessness can access over 100 critical resources such as medical, dental, and vision care, and free groceries,” volunteer coordinator Sam Gast wrote me. “By mobilizing city and community agencies, as well as thousands of volunteers, we are able to ensure that our participants receive holistic care in a dignified setting.” If you’d like to get involved, you can register to volunteer at the event here.

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6. Project Open Hand (@ProjectOpenHand)

Every day, Project Open Hand relies on a team of 125 volunteers to prepare 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain critically ill residents in San Francisco and Oakland. Project Open Hand’s team is “always looking” for new volunteers, Marcus Tolero, a communications officer at the organization, told me.

“Groups and individuals can enjoy the rewarding experience of prepping ingredients for handmade recipes in our commercial kitchen, packaging food in our onsite warehouse, and shopping for clients in our grocery center at our San Francisco and Oakland locations,” he said. If you’d like to volunteer with Project Open Hand, here’s everything you need to know about how to get involved.

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7. Real Options for City Kids (@RealOptionsKids)

Real Options for City Kids (R.O.C.K.) has provided academic support, enrichment activities, outdoor adventures, and sports and recreation to San Francisco youth for 25 years, helping youth escape the gang violence, poverty, and crime that surrounds their childhood neighborhoods.

The organization is looking for new volunteers to get involved, especially with R.O.C.K.’s Saturday programs, which could include playing soccer, going on a hike, or assisting kids with homework. “Individuals who volunteer with R.O.C.K. have the opportunity to impact the lives of our children by broadening their horizons and becoming positive role models,” R.O.C.K.’s development coordinator wrote. If you’d like to get involved, fill out this volunteer registration form.

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8. Refugee Transitions (@reftrans)

Refugee Transitions provides free education, family engagement, and community leadership program services to people who have sought refuge in the U.S. because of war, violence, persecution, and/or economic duress in their country of origin. The nonprofit’s team of staff and volunteers assist newly arrived families to become self-sufficient in the United States by providing services to help them attain the English language, life, job, and academic skills they need to succeed in their new communities.

According to Jyoti Gurung, Refugee Transitions’ Development and Program Associate, the nonprofit is recruiting volunteers for its home-based and school-based education programs in San Francisco, Oakland, and the Greater Bay Area. “We are committed to providing a transformative, cross-cultural experience for students and volunteers alike,” Gurung told me. “We support our volunteers with training, curriculum, resources, and more.” Interested volunteers should fill out this application.

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9. Shanti Project (@shantiprojectsf)

Founded in 1974, Shanti was one of the first volunteer organizations in the United States to work with terminally ill individuals. It later became one of the very first community-based HIV/AIDS organizations in the world. Each year, hundreds of Shanti volunteers provide emotional and practical peer support services to San Franciscans facing challenges such as HIV, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses, and to LGBT seniors and adults with disabilities facing isolation.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Shanti, either call 415-674-4751 or send Shanti an email.

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10. St. Anthony’s (@stanthonysf)

Since 1950, St. Anthony’s has provided essential support to San Franciscans living in poverty. Every day, St. Anthony’s team of volunteers serve 2,400 meals, provide 150 people with fresh, clean clothing, and support 70 individuals with addiction recovery services.

One Inside San Francisco reader, who happens to work at St. Anthony’s, wrote in to tell me that not only is St. Anthony's a great place to volunteer, but the team is always in need of more help, particularly with its dining room and free clothing programs. If you’re interested in volunteering with St. Anthony, either by yourself, with a group, or alongside coworkers, visit this page to learn more.

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Who'd I leave out?

With so many wonderful nonprofits, causes and volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area, I couldn't possibly include everybody in this roundup. That being said, if you feel passionately about a local nonprofit or you know an organization seeking volunteers, tell me about it. There's always a chance I'll shine a spotlight on them in a future newsletter.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Shane Downing is an award-winning journalist based in Oakland. As a freelance writer, he’s passionate about covering the LGBTQ+ community, at-risk youth and local news. He's a former Hoodline editor, and his work regularly appears in Oakland Magazine and The San Francisco Business Times. When he's not writing, Shane is an avid baker, gardener and tennis player.

Editor: Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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