ParentClick Santa Barbara

Local Opportunities to Volunteer


I am too busy. My kids are too young. My child is too busy with school and sports. Maybe next month… These messages that come so easily only model to our children how to make excuses. Most families these days regardless of what age your children are have very full schedules and finding any balance is a challenge let alone trying to fit in any kind of volunteering. However volunteering can truly be one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time.

Any time of the year is a great time to volunteer! Take the time with your kids to research different organizations. Find an organization that matches your child’s passion and interests because then the giving feels effortless. If they find something they love, they will more than likely want to continue. Have your child consider the following… Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team? How much time are you willing to commit? Are you better behind the scenes or better in a more visible role? What causes are important to you? What skills can you share?

Volunteering does not need to look the same for everyone which is why it is so great that there are so many ways to give back… you can join a service club on campus, work with animals, tutor students, advocate for youth, work at a fundraising gala, assist with administrative tasks in the office, mentor a child, coach sports for children with special needs, set up at events, serve on a committee or board, work in a classroom, make cards, clean up the beaches and the list goes on and on… Many organizations offer ongoing opportunities and some have projects you can even bring home and work on as a family.

Volunteering not only provides an opportunity for our kids to help others, it is also the beginning of their resume. Their experiences teach them valuable job skills they can use in the workplace later on such as responsibility, people skills, team work and problem solving. My daughters have started to find some direction in where they want to focus in college as a result of their volunteering. One of my daughters was so inspired after working with the medical team in Haiti that she has decided to pursue medicine and is now looking for local volunteer jobs that will continue to give her more exposure.

If you can aim for once a month or once a quarter to get out and do something big or small individually or as a family, you can make a difference. It is not about the amount of time that you give, it is about making it count which in turn teaches each of us the joy of giving.

There are so many wonderful ways to give back in our community all year round. Go to the BUSINESS DIRECTORY for a full list of non profit organizations.  Think big or small in your volunteering… join a Board or Committee, participate in one time activities or provide ongoing support.


AHA! ACADEMY OF HEALING ARTS is dedicated to the development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence, and social conscience in teenagers. Through an innovative curriculum focusing on self-expression, team-building, empathy training, emotional intelligence, and diversity appreciation, AHA! helps teens learn to set goals, stop bullying and hatred, support their peers, and serve their community. Teens can earn volunteer hours through the program.

ALPHA RESOURCE CENTER welcomes your donations to our Thrift Stores so that we can continue to provide support and information for families of children with developmental disabilities of all ages, teen and adult recreation, and life skills training for adults.

ANGELS FOSTER CARE is seeking families able to care for one child or sibling group (age range: newborn to 5 years). Placement opportunities include emergency/shelter care (typically one month in duration), foster care (typically 1-12 months in duration) or foster-to-adopt care (typically 12-24 months in duration through completion of the adoption). If you cannot foster a child, consider supporting a family that is fostering by providing meals, respite care, gifts at the holidays, etc.

ASSISTANCE LEAGUE OF SB relies on your donations to their thrift shop, operation prom dress, clothing for students in need. Become a member and volunteer or get involved as a mother-daughter tea

AUTISM SOCIETY OF AMERICA SB welcomes volunteers and donations to support their autism community.

BUNS needs volunteer (children and adults welcome) 1 hour or more a week at the shelter taking care of the stray and abandoned bunnies that are waiting for a home. Activities can include some of the following: changing the bunnies’ water, giving pellets, washing and distributing vegetables, helping with grooming, putting bunnies out to exercise, cleaning litter pans, trays, and bunny cages. Regular shelter volunteers can transition to fostering rabbits. We also need volunteers for weekly veggie runs to pick up donated vegetables from local supermarkets.

CALM volunteers make a vital difference in accomplishing our mission. Whether you serve as a child care giver, provide transportation, help out with special events, or provide administrative support.

CANCER CENTER SB  volunteers work in the lobby, in offices, or on events. Greet patients as they arrive for appointments, serve coffee, help with admission forms, etc. Data entry, typing, filing, copying, assisting in regular office duties. Events include Viva La Vida, Cancer Center Walk/Run, and the Barbara Ireland Walk for the Cure of Breast Cancer.

CADA – COUNCIL ON ALCOHOLISM & DRUG ABUSE – has volunteer opportunities for involvement in our CADA Kids programs such as Mentoring, Teen Court, Youth Treatment Program, and the Youth Service System. We are always searching for volunteers to help in several areas including: Special Events, Marketing, public relations, advertising, Community Outreach, General Administration. Consider becoming a Mentor. Volunteer time is flexible. It can fit any schedule and any lifestyle. You can volunteer for several hours every week or for just one day a year!

CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act. Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them. We welcome people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.

CHILDREN’S CREATIVE PROJECT supports arts in our local schools. I MADONNARI  is the main fundraiser that helps support the arts. Come out and volunteer at this annual event.

CHALLENGER LITTLE LEAGUE needs help on and off the field… Coach, field staff, first aid, support buddies, photographers, fundraising, publicity, ads, plan or staff special events, photographers. Participate in our holiday Poinsettia fundraiser.

CITY OF SB PARKS & RECREATION has different ways to get involved and volunteer, check out our site.

COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL can use volunteers at EARTH DAY every April.

COTTAGE HEALTH SYSTEM needs Men and women of all ages are needed in almost every department of the hospital, including: Surgical Waiting Room, Pediatrics, Emergency Department, Gift Shop, Critical Care Units, Pet Therapy, Oncology, Arts and Crafts, Information/Admitting, Spiritual Care. We need Ambassadors, Clerical support as well as Patient Library support. There are opportunities for TEENS including volunteering at our Junior Wheelchair Camp View details on our website.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SOLUTIONS – DVS needs you to Help Families in Our Community Break the Cycle of Violence!  Educate local teens about healthy relationships & early warning signs of abuse. Directly impact the lives of domestic violence victims as a client advocate. Provide child mentoring and assistance to mothers in our shelter programs. Support agency efforts to raise community awareness with public events & campaigns. Foster care for client’s pets while our clients are in shelter. Bring your family or a group and do a one day project…  This can be any number of activities including fixing up an apartment for move-in, playground cleanup and fixup, build a playhouse for shelter children (these projects can vary depending on the skill level and interests of the group) OR support one of our family parties… Any holiday, you could be a ‘sponsor’ and provide food, decorations, kids games and prizes, etc.

EF INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE SCHOOL needs host families. By hosting, families connect to their communities in exciting new ways and create life-changing friendships. They share the American way of life with enthusiastic students who become part of the family, and expose their own children to international cultures.

ELINGS PARK is a hub for youth and families to connect to the healing powers of nature.  We touch the lives of over 200,000 visitors annually in incredibly diverse ways.  On a given day, you will see every type of outdoor activity imaginable including weddings, memorials, dog walkers, team sports, paragliding, bikers, bird watchers, artists and many more.  We could not operate without your continuing support and your volunteer effort.

EXPLORE ECOLOGY  is looking for some great volunteers (adults, teens & children) to work in all aspects of our art and environmental education programs… beach clean-ups, camp interns, reuse store, gallery and more.

FAMILY CARE NETWORK has a variety of ways you can impact the lives of foster and high-needs children and families in Santa Barbara… volunteer, intern, mentor, tutor, foster parenting, and help with special events.

FAMILY SERVICE AGENCY  would love you to join us in offering children, families, and seniors a better tomorrow! Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs adult volunteers with youth who share similar interests to develop fun and meaningful friendships. “Bigs” and “Littles” meet for 6 to 8 hours each month to enjoy simple and fun activities such as shooting hoops, washing the car, or baking cookies together.

FIRST 5 & WELCOME EVERY BABY – WEB relies on contributions and donations from private individuals, foundations and public organizations to operate the program. Visit our site to see how you can contribute.

FUND FOR SB plays a unique role in the community as a hub for progressive donors, activists,organizers, and policy-makers. Youth Making Change (YMC) program empowers youth ages 13 to 19 to be active leaders in their community by promoting service and strengthening youth participation in philanthropy (giving money). The YMC Board members give grants (money) and assistance to projects that address issues and challenges directly affecting youth in Santa Barbara County. After funding, YMC Board members follow-up with the funded groups – sharing what they have learned as grant-makers and philanthropists.

GIRL SCOUTS has great opportunities for moms and daughters to volunteer.

GIRLS INC CARPINTERIA seeks people for on-going commitments, short-term projects and internships. Get involved by joining the Girls Inc. team and help us change the world: one girl, one family, one community at a time. We need program helpers, Educational Workshop Leaders, Workplace Hosts, 1 day service projects, and event planning.

GIRLS INC of GREATER SB is committed to the professional development of all of our peers and takes seriously our responsibility to support, nurture, teach, and inspire each other. Teens are welcome to tutor and provide homework help in our after school program.

GIRSH PARK relies on the community to help to sustain our ongoing operating budget. As the only active recreation park in Goleta, it is used by an array athletic organizations and teams from Dos Pueblos Little League, AYSO, Santa Barbara Women’s Soccer League, and Central Coast Soccer League, to the Goleta Valley Dog Club, 4th of July Fireworks festival, Goleta Egg Hunt and California lemon Festival.

GOLETA VALLEY HISTORICAL SOCIETY – STOW HOUSE has opportunities for teens & adults. Ranch Hosts… provide a warm welcome to guests visiting theVisitor’s Center and Museum Store. Seasonal Ranch Hands… help with behind the scenes preparation and staging, as well as support during events. (Fiesta Ranchera, Old Fashioned 4th of July, Music at the Ranch: Free Concert Series & Holiday at the Ranch.) Wranglers guide and assist children in the Pioneer Days Program. Ranch Hands help organize, preserve, and protect the collections, and discover treasures.

HEARTS THERAPEUTIC EQUESTRIAN CENTER needs volunteers to assist riders during lessons, groom horses, assist with administrative tasks and more! Donate to their wish list which includes used tack or office equipment.

HOMESTAY INTERNATIONAL SB needs host families for international students. We serve both the host families and the students, making sure their experience is one of quality and success.

HOSPICE OF SANTA BARBARA seeks compassionate and dedicated volunteers – Mentor volunteers are adults who experienced the death of a parent or sibling as a child, and are trained and matched with children who have recently experienced a similar loss. Volunteers participate in a comprehensive training program and support patients who are experiencing life threatening illness through companionship, respite care, transportation, and light household support. We also need volunteers for administrative tasks and for special events. View our Wish List…

ICE IN PARADISE Now open! The rink will include an after-school homework center, skating lessons, public skating and programs for figure skaters, hockey players, ice sports and adaptive ice sports. Families can make a difference by making a contribution of any size.

ISLA VISTA YOUTH PROJECTS serves community children and families. Adult and teen interns/volunteers assist in a grade level class, providing additional support to the lead teacher and TA on staff in the after school program and summer programs.

JUNIOR LEAGUE OF SB is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

Loads of Love  is a way of caring for people who are struggling financially by assisting them launder their own clothes. Loads of Love serves people that are living on the streets, in vehicles, in shelters or living with multiple families in a single family dwelling due to financial hardship. People served meet the definition of someone without a home, are food insecure and live in poverty. People in need of assistance are informed of regular opportunities to launder their clothes free of charge at local laundromats. Upon arriving at the laundromat they are met by caring community volunteers that provide the money and laundry detergent needed to launder their clothes.

LOBERO THEATRE is assisted by a wonderful group of dedicated, big-hearted, performance-loving ushers and docents! Ushers assist patrons at all Lobero events by distributing programs & helping patrons to find their seats! Docents give occasional tours of the historic Lobero Theatre. Interns are needed to work in the Foundation office and can learn what the fast-paced world of a non-profit theatre is like.

NETWORK MEDICAL provides medical services for women. Our team of medical professionals are specially trained to help women facing unplanned pregnancies or considering abortion. Contact us to find out how you can volunteer.

PAGE YOUTH CENTER must reach out to the community for ongoing support. If you are a gift-giver, you have the option to buy us something on our Wish list as well. Pick something from our Amazon Wishlist and the item is sent directly to us!

PARTNERS IN EDUCATION needs parent mentors, tutors, business speakers, advisors and coordinators in the classrooms and at special workshops. Some are ongoing and some are one time opportunities. We have opportunities all year round so visit our site for a complete list of current needs. Teens have opportunities to participate in their paid internship program. Find out how to host an intern.

PEP – POSTPARTUM EDUCATION FOR PARENTS is staffed by trained parent volunteers. Take a Warmline shift, participate with the Baby Basics Class, facilitate a New Parent Discussion Group, check in on new parents or volunteer at our events.

REAGAN RANCH CENTER & YOUNG AMERICA’S FOUNDATION internship program provides useful and effective training for student leaders preparing for a career in the Conservative Movement. Interns attend signature conferences and seminars, free of charge.

ROYAL KIDS CAMP for abused and neglected children needs donations of… gift cards, backpacks and twin sheets. Volunteer opportunities available at our summer camps.

SAFETY TOWN volunteers/CIT needed (7th grade and above) to assist children and reinforce safety lessons through movies, songs and fun activities while earning community service hours. Parent volunteers are needed as well to assist with snacks.

SALVATION ARMY  has many volunteer opportunities for adults and children. Volunteer at the Corps Community Center or Hospitality House. Holiday Helpers (14 and over) needed to assist with the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday Food and Toy collection and distribution. Community Care is open to anyone 14 and over (visiting nursing homes and homebound seniors). Bag Lunch assistants (18 and over) needed to help prepare 85 sack lunches which are distributed daily to the homeless. Holiday Meal Aid is needed several times a year, on major holidays, the dining room at The Hospitality House is open to anyone in need of a hot meal. Volunteers 14 and over are needed to help with food preparation, serving and clean-up.

SB BOTANIC GARDEN has opportunities for those that have an urge to “get your hands in the dirt.” Or perhaps you want to help things grow. You might enjoy enhancing our visitors’ experience or you may be a “behind-the-scenes” type who wants to lend a hand. Whatever your motivation, we welcome your talent and enthusiasm!

SB EDUCATION FOUNDATION has an annual Instrument Drive which is a collaborative effort to collect new and used music instruments and equipment from the community for disbursement to young musicians through the SB School District and non-profit organizations. Do you have an instrument you no longer play collecting dust in your home?

SB HUMANE SOCIETY has animals that need time with people to keep them adoptable. Volunteers provide dogs and cats with companionship and exercise. We also need volunteers for administrative tasks in the office.

SB MARITIME MUSEUM has opportunities to get involved and volunteer. Contact us.

SB MUSEUM OF ART has opportunities for adults to volunteer as docents or support various events throughout the year. Teens can volunteer for the ArtVenture camps and after school classes.

SB MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY & SEA CENTER needs sea crew volunteers, museum docents, special event support and people to work behind the scenes. There are opportunities for adults and youth.  Quasars to Sea Stars is a science work-study program where students work closely with educators and scientists to learn about the natural world. Students learn important life skills such as public speaking, computer competency, resume writing, and leadership. After completing 60 hours of community service, students are eligible to become paid staff members, working with Museum scientists and professionals in a variety of departments.

SB PUBLIC LIBRARY needs volunteer tutors to help change lives in the community by using their reading, writing, or math skills to help tutor another adult or child. Tutor, shelve books, homework help & mailings. Teens are needed for our summer reading program.

SB TEEN NEWS NETWORK – TV SB is a magazine/news show created by local teens ages 13-19 with guidance from media professionals. Local teens produce a television show of merit made by and for teens and families.

SB TRIATHLON is always looking for volunteers every August! Community hours available, and a great way to benefit your community!

SB ZOO needs CIT volunteers for camp programs. ZooTeens create outstanding experiences that inspire people to change the world by supporting the Education, Guest Services, and Marketing departments. Adults and youth are needed for administrative tasks, keeper aides and special events (Boo at the Zoo, Princess Day, Zoofari Ball, etc).

SBSNAP – SB SPECIAL NEEDS ADAPTIVE PROGRAMS has volunteer opportunities all year long for youth and adults. Cheer leaders, coaches, after school sports, swim training, dance and fitness instructors, tutors, peer buddies, and more!

SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION OF SB  has both volunteer and donor needs. If you would like to know more about supporting the success of local students, please contact us or make a donation. The awards we provide remind students that this community supports their efforts and wants to see them succeed!

TEDDY BEAR CANCER FOUNDATION volunteers are needed for helping with special events for our families and our fundraisers. We also welcome youth volunteers to help with administrative tasks in our office and our project holiday program. Adopt a family at the holidays.

TV SANTA BARBARA seeks volunteers to help create local programming produced by and for our community. Join the TVSB Media Corps and volunteer your time as crew for local television productions.  All ages are welcome and no experience is necessary.  For a commitment of 15-20 hours per month, TVSB will provide all the training. Become a TVSB Media Maker, take our media production classes, and create and submit your own original programming content. We are seeking Media Professionals to share your knowledge and help provide mentorship and training to TVSB’s community of media makers. Sign up to be a TVSB Studio Facilitator and help welcome people to our community media center, and assist in general operations, including facility reservations, equipment loans, and studio preparation.  We also need volunteer assistance in the areas of social media marketing, promotions, event planning, and general administration. Join our community, volunteer, and learn video production skills!

UCSB ARTS & LECTURES – Gifts to Arts & Lectures enrich the learning of more than 20,000 K-12 and University students, as well as our community. By presenting nearly 200 exciting events each year, we are committed to making the greatest minds and artists from around the globe accessible to Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. Your support helps us to make this world-class programming possible.

UNITED WAY  has many opportunities ranging from mentoring youth to administrative needs in the office. Lunch Bunch Mentors needed during the summers for an hour. Sign up to become an IRS certified tax preparer for the tax season & support low income families prepare their taxes. Participate in DAY OF CARING that happens every September… teams of volunteers and families from across the county will gather to complete much needed tasks such as painting, landscaping, gardening, sorting goods and general repairs.

WILDERNESS YOUTH PROJECT would appreciate any contributions to our wish list.

YOUNG MEN’S SERVICE LEAGUE – foster the mother-son relationship through community service.



November 9, 2015

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  1. Samir says:

    Direct Relief is a Santa Barbara-based non-profit organization that improves the health and lives of those affected by poverty or emergencies by providing essential medical resources in all 50 US states and 80 countries globally. The organization hosts occasional “packing events” where volunteers assemble various kits for at-risk veterans, low-income families and children, medical first-responders, and those displaced by disasters or conflicts. Additionally, Direct Relief has club chapters, called Youth4DirectRelief, at Santa Barbara High School, San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Laguna Blanca, Bishop Garcia Diego High School, and Santa Barbara Junior High. New chapters and other youth opportunities through local schools arise each year.

    I thought you might want to include the organization in this great resource. Let me know if you have any questions.