The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted millions of experienced volunteers to find innovative ways to give back while encouraging those new to volunteering to try it out. This evolution of the volunteer space makes it easier than ever to fit volunteer work into a busy schedule.
With vaccination rates climbing and many places opening to the public again, volunteer opportunities abound this summer. With even a couple of hours to spare, you can support a cause you are passionate about.
Volunteering is good for you
In study after study, researchers have found that people who volunteer lead longer, healthier, happier lives. Volunteerism correlates positively to stronger self-confidence, better quality of friendships and improved job prospects.
Ready to get back out there? Volunteering builds more robust social networks, and because volunteering often helps people discover their passions, the ability to tell one’s own story. Not quite ready for groups? There are plenty of virtual volunteer opportunities too!
Washington Trails Association offers a variety of opportunities, from local one-day work parties to multi-day volunteer vacations, working to restore and maintain our state’s public lands.
In an effort to make all 2,500 acres of Seattle’s parkland healthy and accessible to all, Green Seattle Partnership offers a variety of local restoration, reforestation and work parties every week with over 1,500 events a year at 155 area parks.
Want to plant trees? Seattle’s Tree Ambassador program engages volunteers in leading educational tree walks, hosting tree stewardship events and planting trees with the Trees for Neighborhoods program.
For animal lovers
“Pandemic pets” are now being returned to shelters at alarming rates. Seattle Humane, PAWS and Homeward Pet are great organizations that offer plenty of in-shelter volunteer opportunities such as clinic assistants and animal socializers. Seattle Animal Shelter particularly needs foster homes for dogs, cats and critters.
Seattle Veterinary Outreach, which provides free care for the pets of homeless people, has immediate need of medical staff and clinic support staff.
Want to be a puppy sitter? Summit Assistance Dogs’ single greatest volunteer need is for loving and devoted foster homes and sitter for their puppies and adolescent dogs training to become service pets.
Pasado’s Safe Haven needs volunteers for a variety of roles, including collecting and distributing donations at their pet food bank.
Got a car?
Chicken Soup Brigade needs volunteer drivers to deliver groceries and fresh meals to clients throughout King and Snohomish counties.
Phinney Neighborhood Association’s Hot Meals Program volunteers help by picking up food donations, hosting food drives and preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up weekly meals.
Use your skills
Record yourself reading stories for kids! Neighborhood House seeks volunteers to read a favorite children’s book on video to be shared with participating families. Volunteers who speak other languages are especially needed.
Create fun DIY displays at a local Habitat for Humanity store – it’s not all hammers and nails. Want to build? Project sites are now accepting volunteers in Lake City and Renton for individuals and groups.
Cookies baked with love is a program for volunteers to bake cookies at their home for Recovery Café members attending a monthly resource connection day at the new South Lake Union café. This monthly event offers a variety of other opportunities as well.
Bake bread at home for Community Loaves, a grassroots community bread brigade supporting local food banks with fresh and nutritious home-baked bread.
Volunteer from home
Amnesty International’s Amnesty Decoders network of digital volunteers helps conduct research into global human rights violations.
Help make the Smithsonian Institution’s collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents or edit Wikipedia articles related to their artifacts and research.
For those fluent in more than one language, Translators Without Borders combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health and education.
Tutor underserved K-12 students online one or more hours per week in math, science, reading or writing.
United Nations volunteer programs include a variety of online options, such as writing, translating, design, research, outreach and event organizing. One cool op is to interview women and girls in STEM careers or educational programs for their Talking Tech program.
Family Law CASA of King County needs volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for children in court during custody situations. Training is provided and the position is largely virtual.
The ElderFriends program connects volunteers with isolated adults for regular one-on-one visits (currently by phone) in Puget Sound.
ROOTS Young Adult Shelter relies on volunteers to set up and clean up shelter areas, prepare and serve meals, hand out supplies, build positive relationships with guests, and more.
Need more ideas?
The United Way of King County website has dozens of regional opportunities! Reach out, get involved with something that excites you, and be ready for that warm glow feeling.
The American Red Cross relies on volunteers to carry out 90% of its volunteer work in preventing and responding to humanitarian crises. From boots-on-the-ground opportunities to behind the scenes work in outreach and fundraising, there is something for everyone.
The UW Combined Fund Drive continuously compiles volunteer opportunities with our 5,000 member organizations.
Want to donate more than time?
The UW COVID-19 Employee Emergency Fund is providing up to $750 for a critical, temporary, and unforeseen financial hardship due to COVID-19. Financial grants do not need to be repaid and are not taxable as income.
Set up monthly payroll deduction or make a one-time gift through the UW Combined Fund Drive (UWCFD) to any of thousands of charitable organizations locally, nationally and internationally.
Know of a great summer volunteer opportunity in our area? Drop it in the comments!
Nicole joined the UWCFD team in 2020 as a workplace giving specialist, having volunteered as a campaign coordinator for several years. Her previous experience includes communications roles with the UW Departments of Urology and Economics.
A Seattle native, Nicole enjoys reading, traveling, family time and lots of coffee.