5 volunteering opportunities in the Berkeley community

With midterms finally winding down and the holiday season in the air, it is a good time to think about our community at large and how you can give back and give thanks. It is easy to live in the “Berkeley bubble” on campus and within our student organizations, jobs and lifestyles. Rarely do we consider volunteering our time outside our studies and extracurriculars to make an impact on the Berkeley community. According to Healthline, volunteering is a great way to relieve stress, find more enhanced meaning and purpose, live a more active lifestyle and find fulfillment in your community. We all know that stress relief is a high priority, especially with the rush of finals coming soon, so let’s get to volunteering. It’s a win-win!

There are a variety of volunteer opportunities during the holiday season in Berkeley and our surrounding areas. Here are five ways to get involved.

1. Volunteer at Berkeley’s youth center: Youth Engagement Advocacy Housing

1744 University Ave., Berkeley, CA

Youth Engagement Advocacy Housing, or YEAH!, is Berkeley’s only shelter for transitional-age youth — people between the ages of 18 and 25 — who are currently homeless. You can make a difference and volunteer by cooking and serving food, interacting with the youth by handing out sleeping materials and monitoring the shower sign-ups. YEAH! requires that all volunteers complete a one-time, two-hour orientation. If you are interested, feel free to check out its website and get in touch with the volunteer coordinator.

2. Become a “Cat Cuddler” at Oakland’s Hopalong Animal Rescue 

945 22nd Ave., Oakland, CA 

Yes. This is an actual volunteer position. Sign us up! Who doesn’t love to cuddle with cats? This exact position needs volunteers at the Oakland, Pinol and Emeryville Hopalong locations. As a “Cat Cuddler,” you are responsible for giving attention to the cats that are currently housed at the adoption shelters. Other duties include making sure the cats have a clean environment and occasionally scooping their litter box. Get your kitten fix satisfied and sign up now! You can check out Hopalong’s various volunteer opportunities on the Hopalong website. Side note: If you haven’t watched Soulpancake’s recent video experiment that includes stressed out people and kittens, stop reading this and watch it now.

3. Bring joy to those with memory loss with Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay

2320 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA

Donate an hour or two of your time to cheer up people who are struggling to remember the things in life that make them happy. Sing, dance, chat, play music, paint, sew … bring your talents to the table and be a light in someone’s life. Sound interesting? Learn more about available volunteer opportunities here.

4. Serve alongside 13,000 volunteers at the Alameda County Food Bank

7900 Edgewater Drive, Oakland, CA

1 in 5 Alameda County residents utilize the food bank. With 13,000 volunteers and 2 million pounds of food distributed to Alameda county residents per month, there is high demand for both food support and volunteers. Positions include: weekday food sorting, weekend food sorting and organizing a food drive (virtually or in-person). If you decide to organize a virtual food drive, the Alameda County Food Bank will turn every $1 raised into $6 of food for the community! Get involved today!

5. Volunteer your talents at the Berkeley Food and Housing Project

2362 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA

The Berkeley Food and Housing Project, or BFHP, strives to “ease and end the crisis of homelessness in our community” by providing transitional and permanent housing services. Many of the clients suffer from multiple disabilities, including psychiatric illness, physical and developmental disabilities and substance abuse. You can get involved by volunteering your talents! The BFHP currently offers enrichment classes such as yoga, resume reviews and job coaching and offers after-school tutoring. Your campus organization can get involved by signing up to volunteer for a day!

We hope this inspires you to get out, give thanks and volunteer this holiday season!

Image Sources: sikander via Creative Commons

Contact Rebecca Stifter at [email protected].