Happy Longest Day of the year (this Sunday), y’all!! With the turn of a new season (yeah, shocker… all those 90 degree days we’ve been having are actually called “spring”), it’s time for another volunteer guide. Woot woot! This guide will include a mix of outdoor and indoor opportunities (because when it’s 91 and your weather app says it “feels like 100,” clearly some AC is in order), with a slight lean towards indoor opportunities, because apparently people stop going outside in D.C. during the summer. Who knew? Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of summer opportunities involving children and students. From summer camp to summer classes, get ready to get out there and give back.
If you’re just getting started, check out this DC Guide to Volunteering 101 first, then come on back for some summer opps.
N Street Village: A reader clued us in to this gem — focusing on women’s empowerment, they provide housing, meals, tutoring, day-care, and other services to homeless and low income women in D.C. Volunteers can offer their time as tutors, preparing dinners and lunches, working as overnight staffers, etc. Time commitment varies, and N Street is open to groups of up to 12 volunteers if you want to gather some pals and make a day of it.
Living Classrooms: An organization that does exactly what the title implies — it brings young people out into the environment for hands-on learning. Whether it be at sea or in a professional working environment, Living Classroom brings meaningful experiences into the lives of students who might not otherwise be able to have them. While Living Classroom focuses on students, they have also branched out to give adults second chances with GED tutoring and mentoring ex-offenders to help them assimilate back into the community. Volunteer opportunities are as varied as mentor, coach, or speaker (giving a presentation or just sharing your experiences). Time commitment: moderate to high. Living Classroom also seeks volunteers for fundraising events, if you cannot commit to a regular volunteer schedule.
DC Public Schools Beautification Day: Just what it sounds like! On August 22nd, volunteers come out to D.C.’s public schools to spruce up the schools’ grounds before students go back to school. If you’re free that day, consider coming out! Time commitment: low (who doesn’t have time for an afternoon of beautifying??).
CHIME: Got music talent? Put it to use by helping students as a music mentor or teaching music in after school programs at D.C. schools. Can’t carry a tune but love the cause? CHIME also needs volunteer for events and to help with fundraising, marketing, or administrative tasks. Time commitment: varies.
Critical Exposure: A non-profit that shows children the beauty in the world around them through teaching photography skills. To see some of their students’ great photography, check out their online gallery. You can volunteer as a photographer, rainmaker (best term for fundraisers ever!), film-maker, worker bee… etc. There are lots of volunteer opportunities with this awesome artistic organization and the time commitment will vary based on how involved you want to be.
DC Youth Advisory Council: Are you a teen? Do you know any teens? DCYAC gives youths the chance to speak up for their communities and gain the skills to help them contribute meaningfully in society. Apply in the summer for membership from September through June. Only current D.C. residents ages 13-22 are eligible to apply. Time commitment: 2 meetings per month.
Arcadia Farms: Okay, so I’ve totally shared this one before, but they’re hosting their Summer Solstice Farm Dinner on June 21st and are still looking for volunteers for set-up and serving. And don’t forget about their monthly Saturday volunteer days, Farm Education opportunities, and weekly Sunday evening Farm Tonics (3 hours of farming followed by G&Ts, what could be better??). (disclaimer: this is my favorite spot to volunteer, so I suppose I could be biased…).
For Love of Children: Another opportunity that comes reader-recommended, FLOC helps support children not only through elementary and high school, but also with the transition into the working world. Volunteer opportunities include being a neighborhood tutor, post secondary coach, or volunteer at the outdoor education center in West Virginia. Time commitment: varies.
City Kids: Yeah, yeah, another opportunity to work with kiddos during their summer breaks! City Kids provides opportunities for under-resourced youth from 6th grade through high school. Volunteer opportunities include everything from leading weekend wilderness trips to afterschool tutoring (with an obvious trend towards the outdoor opportunities in the summertime). Time commitment: middling.
People Animals Love: Got a friendly pup? Wanna share? PAL connects people who own friendly pets with people in need of some furry loving (“pocket pets” such as guinea pigs and rabbits are also welcome!). Volunteers with cuddly pets visit senior living centers, hospitals, and other places in the D.C. area where residents could use some lovin’. And don’t fret, if you have no pet of your own, you can still volunteer at PAL Club, which provides tutoring and other support to students at Stanton Elementary. Time commitment: low.
Girls Rock DC: Girls rock. Duh. This is an awesome organization dedicated to, you guessed it, girls rocking out. Female empowerment through musical expression guys, this org is as BAMF as they come. Girls Rock is seeking volunteers to help run their weeklong camp at the end of July as well as year-round volunteers to help with everything from music lessons to administrative tasks. Time commitment: varies.
Life Pieces to Masterpieces: This organization empowers young black men from ages 3-25 through various apprenticeships where boys are mentored and tutored in a number of different subjects. There are yearlong opportunities here as well as shorter stints. There may still be volunteer opportunities for their summer program, so reach out now if interested! Time commitment: varies.
If you’re thinking of taking a summer service trip, think twice before heading to Nepal. And if you don’t plan to visit, but are still hellbent on supporting Nepal (as you should be), here is The Guardian’s recommendation on good places to donate, and here is one organization that is doing great things and devoting a lot of their time to earthquake relief. (disclaimer #2, they were referred to me by a friend who trekked in Nepal with folks from Portal Bikes the week before the earthquake hit)
Lastly, if you’re a reader and you have a volunteer opportunity to share, by all means SHARE IT in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to add the opportunity to the fall guide!! Oh, and if you’re looking for a cool beverage to celebrate having just saved (a little piece of) the world, here’s my favorite outdoor drinking guide I’m sure you’ve never seen before. Cheers to summertime and doing good!