The Field Guide to Community Service

Social Services

“Volunteers will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no volunteers.”
— Ken Wyman

Social service organizations are the critical agencies that focus on basic needs – food, shelter, clothing – as well as other human services. From homeless shelters and food banks to organizations that empower women and protect children, there are endless opportunities to make a difference.


  • Donate tickets for community plays, sporting events and movie theaters to Child Advocates so a foster child can enjoy an outing with his or her CASA volunteer.

  • Check out StandUp for Kids wishlist and make a donation. They need everything from $5 food cards and office supplies to hygiene items and snacks.

  • There are many opportunities to volunteer with West Valley Community Services including helping plant or harvest vegetables in their community garden.


  • Check out FISH at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in San Jose; it’s a food bank that supplies emergency food to low-income individuals and families.

  • African American Community Service Agency has loads of volunteer opportunities, including workshop assistance, web/graphic designers and library volunteers.

  • Volunteer with Martha’s Kitchen to help serve meals to the hungry.

  • Santa Maria Urban Ministry is always looking for volunteers to help in its homework center from September to May.

  • Volunteer at Happy Dragon Thrift Shop, which raises money for Uplift Family Services. Volunteers work for 3.5 hours per shift and the organization asks for a minimum of 11 hours per month.


  • Recovery Café – which believes that every human being is precious, worthy of love and deserving of opportunities – needs Café Companions, specially trained volunteers who foster a positive and healthy ambience within the café. Companions are committed to being a focused, welcoming and supportive influence for café members.

  • Host a drive for Sacred Heart Community Service. The organization makes it easy by providing guidelines and ideas so you can make a difference. It also has a list of items they need all the time, including warm coats and sweaters, blankets and more.

  • Consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with Child Advocates. A CASA is a compassionate and courageous individual willing to advocate for a foster child's best interests. All CASAs are trained community volunteers who are appointed by a judge.


ACT for Mental Health Inc.

(408) 287-2640

ACT (All Cooperating Together) for Mental Health and Wellness provides quality, affordable mental health counseling and educational services.

Abilities United

(650) 259-8500

Abilities United advances advocacy, inclusion and independence for people with developmental disabilities.

Abrahamic Alliance International

(408) 728-8943

AAi unites Jews, Christians and Muslims for active peacebuilding and poverty relief. The organization is looking for brave synagogues, churches and mosques that are ready to rise above the political pressures and stereotypes that seek to divide us.

African American Community Service Agency

(408) 292-3157

AACSA provides programs to strengthen African American identity, culture, values, traditions, knowledge and family life.

American Red Cross

(877) 727-6771

The American Red Cross helps our community prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Asian Americans for Community Involvement

(408) 975-2730

AACI serves the Asian American community by providing an array of services to improve the physical health, mental health and well-being of individuals. ​

Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center

(408) 293-3040

The Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center provides community, leadership, advocacy, services and support to the Silicon Valley’s LGBTQ people and their allies.

Books Aloud Inc.

(408) 808-2616

Books Aloud works to improve the quality of life for the blind, visually impaired, physically and learning disabled of all ages through its “Reading by Listening” program.


(408) 337-2079

Provides free birthday cakes for foster children and at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

(408) 468-0100

Catholic Charities serves and advocates for individuals and families in need, especially those living in poverty. It works to create a more just and compassionate community in which people of all cultures and beliefs can participate.

Center for Employment Training

(408) 534-5360

CET is an economic and community development corporation that promotes human development and education by providing people with marketable skills training and supportive services that contribute to self-sufficiency.

Child Advocates

(408) 416-0400

Child Advocates recruits and trains Court Appointed Special Advocates who stand up for children in the foster care system.

CityTeam San Jose/Silicon Valley

(408) 232-5600

CityTeam is a nondenominational Christian organization that compassionately serves those who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, hunger and addiction. It has programs in five U.S. cities, including San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

Destination: Home

(408) 961-9895

A public-private partnership that serves as the backbone organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County.

Downtown Streets Team

(408) 899-7350

Downtown Streets Team strives to end homelessness by restoring dignity and rebuilding the lives of unhoused men and women.

Dress for Success San Jose

(408) 935-8299

Dress for Success San Jose empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools.


(408) 278-2000

Expandability (formerly TransAccess) helps youth and adults with disabilities achieve their goals through individualized assessments, career and job placement assistance, adaptive technology and more.

Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley

Family & Children Services works to build strong, safe, and self-sufficient individuals, families and communities. It offers a range of innovative, accessible and integrated programs and services addressing critical health and human services needs.

Family Giving Tree, The

(408) 946-3111

The Family Giving Tree fulfills holiday wishes and provides backpacks filled with school supplies to children in need in our communities while inspiring the values of kindness, philanthropy and volunteerism.

Family Supportive Housing

(408) 926-8885

Family Supportive Housing has been helping homeless single- and two-parent families with children remain intact, while addressing their needs for food, shelter, employment and education.

Front Door Communities

(408) 600-6654

Front Door Communities supports and serves homeless and at-risk men and women in downtown San Jose. Their programs include a lunch bag distribution and a women's drop-in center.

Good Karma Bikes

(408) 291-0501

Good Karma Bikes transforms lives by supporting people with low cost or free bicycles so they can get to work.

Goodwill of Silicon Valley

(408) 998-5774

Goodwill of Silicon Valley supports employees, customers and people with challenging barriers to employment. It works to raise their standard of living and improve their lives through its services and social enterprise.

Grail Family Services

(408) 347-7892

Grail Family Services partners with families, schools and communities to promote children’s success and well-being.

Grateful Garment Project, The

(408) 674-5744

The Grateful Garment Project provides victims of sexual violence the clothing and other resources they need to reclaim their dignity and begin the healing process. The organization works with hospitals, shelters, law enforcement and other nonprofits to meet victims’ immediate needs after a crisis and support their ongoing needs along their road to recovery.

HIP Housing

(650) 348-6660

HIP Housing invests in human potential by improving the housing and lives of people in our community. HIP Housing enables people with special needs, either from income or circumstance, to live independent, self-sufficient lives in decent, safe, low-cost homes.

Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

(866) 450-4432

Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Health Trust

(408) 513-8700

The Health Trust works to advance wellness for all, especially the most vulnerable, in Silicon Valley. Focus areas include food and nutrition, chronic disease and housing.


(408) 539-2100

HomeFirst is a leading provider of services, shelter and housing opportunities to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness in Santa Clara County. HomeFirst confronts homelessness by cultivating people's potential to get housed and stay housed.

Hope Services

(408) 284-2850

Hope Services works to improve quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities by providing children’s services, after-school programs, day services, employment and job training, mental health services, senior services and community living services.

Hope’s Corner

(650) 254-1450

Hope’s Corner provides nutritious food, free showers and a place for people to feel welcomed and build community.

Housing Industry Foundation

(650) 437-2980

The Housing Industry Foundation helps individuals and families remain in or return to stable housing through emergency assistance grants, shelter renovations and affordable housing initiatives.

Housing Trust Silicon Valley

(408) 703-3837

The Housing Trust works to make Silicon Valley a more affordable place to live by making loans and grants to increase the supply of affordable housing, assist first-time homebuyers, prevent homelessness and stabilize neighborhoods.

Hunger at Home

(408) 318-0038

Hunger at Home partners with convention centers, hotels, resorts, stadiums and entertainment venues to donate surplus food to soup kitchens and other charities to feed those in need.

Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley

(408) 445-3400

The Indian Health Center helps ensure the survival and healing of American Indians/Alaskan Natives by providing high quality, comprehensive health care and wellness services.

International Rescue Committee

(408) 277-0255

Each year, thousands of refugees are invited by the U.S. government to seek safety and freedom and the IRC helps them rebuild their lives.


(650) 685-5880

LifeMoves provides interim housing and supportive services to enable homeless families and individuals to rapidly return to stable housing and achieve long-term self-sufficiency.

Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen

(408) 922-9085

Loaves & Fishes provides free, nutritious meals and support services in a dignified, safe and caring environment to all needy individuals, with special concern for families, seniors and the homeless.

Martha’s Kitchen

(408) 293-6111

Martha’s Kitchen is an interfaith hot meal program that has served tens of thousands of hungry men, women and children in the San Jose area.

Mexican American Community Services Agency

(408) 326-0200

MACSA enriches the lives and advance the interests of the Latino community of Santa Clara County.

Midtown Family Services

(408) 642-5852

Midtown helps working families that are homeless or on the brink of homelessness navigate services to secure safe, affordable housing.

Milpitas Food Pantry

(408) 946-5564

Milpitas Food Pantry provides emergency food and clothing for residents of Milpitas and Alviso.

My New Red Shoes

(650) 241-3911

My New Red Shoes provides homeless and low-income children with new clothing and shoes.

Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence

(408) 501-7550

Next Door Solutions is dedicated to ending domestic violence and creates paths for women to achieve safety, stability and self-sufficiency.


onRoute22 works to end poverty for women by restoring dignity and hope.

Options For All

(408) 423-9484

Options For All helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities become fully participating members of their communities who can experience the pride of personal and professional accomplishment.


(408) 678-8585

OUTREACH works to connect vulnerable populations with information and assistance that will help them to live independently and with dignity.


(408) 484-6200

Silicon Valley Children’s Fund and TeenForce merged to become Pivotal. The organization works to help foster youth achieve academic and employment success.

Project HIRED

(408) 557-0880

Project HIRED helps job seekers with disabilities to find and sustain meaningful employment. Its services are designed to promote self-sufficiency and independence, remove barriers, create opportunities and help participants build successful careers.

Project Night Night

(415) 310-0360

Project Night Night provides free packages to homeless children from birth to pre-teen. Each package contains a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book and a stuffed animal — all nestled inside of a new canvas tote bag.

Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley

(408) 578-9519

Rebuilding Together provides critical home repairs to low-income residents and assists nonprofits with facility maintenance.

Recovery Café San Jose

(408) 294-2963

Recovery Café San Jose is a healing community for those traumatized by addiction, homelessness and mental health challenges.

S.T.A.R. Programs Inc.

(669) 230-4015

S.T.A.R. (St. Andrew’s Residential Program for Youth) provides residential care to youth and young adults in foster care and the juvenile justice system through services in transitional housing and foster homes.

St. Vincent de Paul Santa Clara County

(408) 249-2853

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering services to those who are needy and suffering.

Sacred Heart Community Service

(408) 278-2160

Sacred Heart works to build a community free from poverty by creating hope, opportunity and action. It provides essential services to individuals and families in need.

Salvation Army Silicon Valley

(408) 998-2064

The Salvation Army, an international Christian organization, provides a variety of resources for seniors, families, addicts and children throughout the Bay Area.

San Jose Exchange Club

(408) 293-6341

San Jose Exchange Club works to improve the community through programs focused on child abuse prevention, community service, youth and Americanism.

San Jose Search and Rescue

San Jose Search and Rescue is an emergency response team with more than 50 volunteers that has responded to hundreds of emergency requests, including locating downed aircraft, flood evacuations, searches for missing and kidnapped persons, technical rope rescues, evidence searches, body recoveries, medical support for special events and swift water rescues.

Santa Maria Urban Ministry

(408) 292-3314

Santa Maria Urban Ministry works to feed the body, mind and spirit of individuals in our community by providing them with food and other basic services, educational programs and opportunities to give back through volunteer service.

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley

(408) 266-8866

Second Harvest distributes healthy food to those in need through a network of partners.

Silicon Valley Independent Living Center

(408) 894-9041

Silicon Valley Independent Living Center serves people with all types of disabilities in Santa Clara County. It provides the support tools and resources needed to live interdependently, and advocates for policies that ensure equal access and opportunity for all.

Sourcewise Community Resource Solutions

(408) 350-3200

Sourcewise works to provide adults and their caregivers with the tools and services they need to effectively navigate their health and life options.

StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley

StandUp For Kids works to end the cycle of youth homelessness by building communities where all youth feel loved and cared for, and have a support system to help them move quickly from surviving to thriving.

Step Up Silicon Valley

(408) 325-5128

Step Up seeks to transform community awareness and generate the political will to create change that enables individuals and families to step up out of poverty in Santa Clara County.

Sunday Friends

(408) 217-9587

Sunday Friends empowers families to break the generational cycle of poverty by fostering positive development in children while educating and guiding parents to support their children’s life success.

Teen Success Inc.

(408) 263-8330

Teen Success breaks the cycle of intergenerational poverty by helping teen mothers graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education, delay additional children until adulthood, and get on a path to long-term self-sufficiency and well-being.

Ujima Family Recovery Services

(510) 236-3139

Ujima Family Recovery Services is dedicated to helping families recover from alcoholism, drug addiction and behavioral health problems.

United Way Bay Area

(415) 808-4300

United Way activates individuals and organizations to break the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area by building financial capability among residents. It is fighting to remove barriers to success and improve lives.

Unity Care Group

(408) 971-9822

Unity Care Group provides quality youth and family programs to create healthier communities through lifelong partnerships. Its goals are to provide safe, secure and positive living environments; educate and support underserved youth; and prepare young people to pursue professions in which minorities are chronically underrepresented.

Uplift Family Services

(408) 379-3790

Uplift Family Services helps over 30,000 children and family members recover from trauma, such as abuse, severe neglect, addiction and poverty, each year.

Valle Verde


Valley Verde provides low-income families with free organic gardening classes and materials.

Via Services

(408) 243-7861

Via Services is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and special needs achieve greater self-sufficiency and lead richer lives.

Village House

Village House is part of Holy Spirit Parish and serves as a place of refuge for homeless, medically fragile women.

West Valley Community Services

(408) 255-8033

West Valley Community Services is fighting poverty by providing critical food, housing and support services to the low-income and homeless individuals and families in the West Valley communities of Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga and West San Jose.