The Field Guide to Community Service
“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 (All Cooperating Together) for Mental Health and Wellness provides quality, affordable mental health counseling and educational services.
Abilities United advances advocacy, inclusion and independence for people with developmental disabilities.
Abrahamic Alliance International
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
AACSA provides programs to strengthen African American identity, culture, values, traditions, knowledge and family life.
The American Red Cross helps our community prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
Asian Americans for Community Involvement
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
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 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.
Provides free birthday cakes for foster children and at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
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
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 recruits and trains Court Appointed Special Advocates who stand up for children in the foster care system.
CityTeam San Jose/Silicon Valley
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.
A public-private partnership that serves as the backbone organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County.
Downtown Streets Team strives to end homelessness by restoring dignity and rebuilding the lives of unhoused men and women.
Dress for Success San Jose empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools.
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.
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 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 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 transforms lives by supporting people with low cost or free bicycles so they can get to work.
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 partners with families, schools and communities to promote children’s success and well-being.
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 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
Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
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.
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 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 provides nutritious food, free showers and a place for people to feel welcomed and build community.
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.
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 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
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
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.
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
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 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
MACSA enriches the lives and advance the interests of the Latino community of Santa Clara County.
Midtown helps working families that are homeless or on the brink of homelessness navigate services to secure safe, affordable housing.
Milpitas Food Pantry provides emergency food and clothing for residents of Milpitas and Alviso.
My New Red Shoes provides homeless and low-income children with new clothing and shoes.
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence
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 helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities become fully participating members of their communities who can experience the pride of personal and professional accomplishment.
OUTREACH works to connect vulnerable populations with information and assistance that will help them to live independently and with dignity.
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 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 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
Rebuilding Together provides critical home repairs to low-income residents and assists nonprofits with facility maintenance.
Recovery Café San Jose is a healing community for those traumatized by addiction, homelessness and mental health challenges.
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
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
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.
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 works to improve the community through programs focused on child abuse prevention, community service, youth and Americanism.
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 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
Second Harvest distributes healthy food to those in need through a network of partners.
Silicon Valley Independent Living Center
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
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 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 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 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
Ujima Family Recovery Services is dedicated to helping families recover from alcoholism, drug addiction and behavioral health problems.
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 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 helps over 30,000 children and family members recover from trauma, such as abuse, severe neglect, addiction and poverty, each year.
Valley Verde provides low-income families with free organic gardening classes and materials.
Via Services is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and special needs achieve greater self-sufficiency and lead richer lives.
Village House is part of Holy Spirit Parish and serves as a place of refuge for homeless, medically fragile women.
West Valley Community Services
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.
Donate food to a local food bank.
Shop at Happy Dragon Thrift Shop, The Butter Paddle or Unicorn Thrift Shop — all three raise money to support Uplift Family Services.
Prepare an emergency kit.
Donate clothes or household items to a local nonprofit.
Support the homeless in our community by donating to one of the many organizations that support them.