It’s time for apple picking and haunted houses!!!! And also a chance to do something awesome for someone else outside during crisp fall weather, or indoors when the next hurricane hits. Here are just a few rad volunteer opportunities in D.C. that may involve crunching leaves underfoot.
DC Scores: Want to extend your soccer experience beyond watching DC United games and “playing” in your weekly beer league? DC Scores is a great non-profit that uses soccer as a way to engage low income youth in DC through after-school programs at 50 sites across the city. DC Scores instills self-expression, physical fitness, and a sense of community in youth through the sport. You can volunteer as a soccer or writing coach, as a referee, or at one of DC Scores’ special events, like the upcoming Fall Frenzy being held October 24th. Time commitment: varies
National Zoo: We can’t guarantee you’ll get to spend your time with Bae Bae and Bao Bao or those cute lion cubs, but if you’ve always wanted to go to Night of the Living Zoo without the $30 ticket cost, you may have luck securing a volunteer spot at the event. When you’re signing up to volunteer at the zoo for other positions, keep in mind that they require a 1 year minimum commitment, so if you’re not going anywhere and would love to be involved — this could be a great option to make some new furry friends. Time commitment: pretty high
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN): KEEN provides sports and fitness activities and support to children and young adults with physical and mental disabilities, at no cost to their families. Volunteer opportunities exist throughout the greater DC area and range from coaching swimming or soccer to teaching music and dance. Time commitment: ranges from moderate to significant
Metro TeenAIDS: As the name suggests, this organization partners with young people to stop HIV/AIDS and decrease the stigma associated with the disease. It provides education programs and prevention resources to many students across the greater DC area. There are many ways to volunteer with MTA, such as assisting with their “RealTalkDC” program or assembling Safer Sex kits once a month. Time commitment: low to moderate
Washington DC Jewish Community Center: If you’re looking for ways to volunteer with organizations that have a faith-based background, DCJCC is a great option for occasional or year-long volunteer opportunities. Opportunities vary from “Behrend Builders” to “Books to Prisons”. Time commitment: varies
DC Greens: If you’re looking to soak up sunshine for as long as possible in 2015, check out DC Greens, an organization focused on getting healthy food education into schools across the capital. There are outdoor opportunities on their urban farm (not far from Union Station) through November, you can volunteer at farmer’s markets until they close up for the winter, and when the snow flies you can volunteer indoors, running cooking demos for middle schoolers across the city. Time commitment: varies
Suited for Change: If you’re looking for an opportunity to empower women, Suited for Change is a great organization that provides low income women with the resources (and professional attire) to ace the job interview and score a good job. Volunteer opportunities include helping clients select appropriate interview attire, teaching workshops on topics ranging from conflict management to financial literacy, and helping with events like their monthly insider fashion sales. Time commitment: low to moderate
Manna Food Center: Looking for opportunities in Montgomery County? Manna Food Center is working to eliminate hunger in MoCo. You can volunteer with food distribution at their Gaithersburg distribution center or at one of their special events, such as their October Food Drive, happening the weekend of the 17th. Time commitment: varies
So Others Might Eat (SOME): If you’d like an experience similar to that at Manna, but DC-focused, SOME is celebrating their 45th year of service in our nation’s capital. SOME is an interfaith, community-based organization that provides everything from meals and clothing to family services to individuals in need, with a variety of volunteer opportunities to match their offerings, such as volunteering in one of their dining rooms or tutoring and mentoring students eligible to receive their services. Time commitment: low to moderate
We Are Family: Looking for an opportunity to volunteer with seniors? We Are Family is a Senior Outreach Network that serves the elderly in many of DC’s neighborhoods. Volunteer opportunities are flexible based on how much time volunteers can afford to share, ranging from midweek home visits to occasional Saturday grocery delivery. We Are Family pegs itself as “an experiment in building just, caring, and inclusive community”, something I think we can all get behind. A low-commitment start would be joining for their community walk in Columbia Heights on October 17th. Time commitment: low
Signature Theater: Having been served by some of Signature Theater’s amazing volunteers, I can attest to what a good time it looks like they’re having. Volunteers who usher or serve before a show also get to watch the performance, bonus! Time commitment: low
National Arboretum: A perfect opportunity for spring or fall — with plenty of leaf-clearing and cold weather-prepping to be done these next couple of months. If you live nearby and are interested in learning about all things horticulture, consider volunteering at the arboretum. Volunteers are expected to spend at least 4 hours per week at the arboretum, so the time commitment here ranges from moderate to high.
That wraps up our fall volunteer opportunities, so go on out there and soak up the last bit of fall weather and do some good while you’re at it! As always, if we’ve missed your favorite volunteer spot, please mention it in the comments section and we’ll add it to next season’s guide! Until then, see you kids this winter when we’ll have plenty of indoor opportunities to share!