National Volunteer Month: Western Washington organizations looking for volunteers


November 4th, 2023

Over the years, the Greater Seattle region has earned the reputation of a community that gives back. In fact, Seattle consistently ranks among the top five metro areas in the country for volunteer time given. However, the pandemic dramatically changed local volunteer rates.

As The Seattle Times highlighted back in February, the number of adults in the Seattle metro area who volunteered in the past 12 months dropped by 10 percentage points over the last three years. It started with volunteer roles getting reduced at the start of the pandemic, but as those roles have reopened, the volunteers haven’t returned. That volunteer shortage comes alongside increased demand for nonprofit resources, with rising food costs, inflation, and housing costs impacting local communities.

April is National Volunteer Month, and it’s a great time for nonprofits to recognize their volunteers and for community members to explore volunteer opportunities. There are so many ways people can give back to their communities through volunteering—from coaching your child’s sports team or cleaning up a park, and more.

Nonprofits throughout the region rely on volunteers to keep their programs running to serve children, families, and communities. Knowing that volunteer rates have dropped in our region, our Community Engagement team reached out to local grantees to learn more about their volunteer needs. Check out this list to see which opportunities spark your interest!

Public Health

Seattle/King County Clinic

Seattle/King County Clinic Website

helping to create a community of compassionate care - Seattle/King County Clinic

Seattle/King County Clinic brings together healthcare organizations, civic agencies, nonprofits, private businesses, and volunteers across Washington state to produce a giant free health clinic at Seattle Center. The four-day volunteer-driven clinic provides free dental, vision and medical care to anyone in the region who struggles to access and/or afford healthcare.

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Seattle/King County Clinic will hold a clinic April 27-30 and will offer free dental, vision, and medical care for people across the state. The clinic is looking for dentists and dental hygienists. They also need chiropractors, mental and behavioral health clinicians, nurses, occupational therapists, radiologists, and podiatrists. For vision services, the clinic needs volunteer opticians and optometrists. Volunteers are also needed for language interpretation, IT support, and general clinic support.

Volunteer with the Seattle/King County Clinic: https://seattlecenter.org/volunteers

Food Banks

Ballard Food Bank

Ballard Food Bank Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

The Ballard Food Bank is always looking for volunteers who can recover and sort food, stock shelves, and help clients shop. The food bank has a few specific needs as well: front desk support, mail desk volunteers, home delivery food packers, home delivery drivers, and food recovery substitute drivers.

Volunteer with Ballard Food Bank: https://www.ballardfoodbank.org/volunteer

Food Lifeline

Food Lifeline Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Current needs include repacking food for distribution to agency partners and picking up food from community food drives throughout the Greater Seattle area.

Volunteer with Food Lifeline: foodlifeline.org/volunteer

Nourish Pierce County

Nourish Pierce County Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Nourish—the largest food bank in Pierce County—depends on the services of 700 volunteers to help maintain the operations of 20 distribution sites and a warehouse facility.

Volunteer with Nourish: https://nourishpc.org/volunteer

Northwest Harvest

Northwest Harvest Website

Caption: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation employees volunteer at the Northwest Harvest Cherry St. Food Bank for the United Way Day of Caring in Seattle, WA.

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Northwest Harvest volunteers donate approximately 150,000 hours per year—the rough equivalent of 50 full-time staff. Volunteers help repack products at one of their regional distribution centers, distribute food at their SODO Community Market in Seattle, help at events, and host food drives.

Volunteer with Northwest Harvest: https://www.northwestharvest.org/get-involved/volunteer

Rainier Valley Food Bank

Rainier Valley Food Bank Website

Caption: Gates Foundation staff volunteer at the Rainier Valley Food Bank during the United Way Day of Caring in Seattle, WA.

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

While Rainier Valley Food Bank always needs volunteers to help sort and stock food, they have specific needs for delivery drivers, grocery rescue, client check-in, translation assistance, and child care support.

Volunteer with the Rainier Valley Food Bank: https://www.rvfb.org/volunteer

South King County Food Coalition

South King County Food Coalition Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

South King County Food Coalition’s Elk Run Farm is always looking for more volunteers to help with tasks that range from watering seedlings to harvesting fruits and vegetables. They are also seeking volunteers to facilitate sampling and food demonstrations inside food banks.

Volunteer with South King County Food Coalition: http://www.skcfc.org/get-involved.html

University District Food Bank

University District Food Bank Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Grocery rescue volunteer helpers are most needed right now. This volunteer role involves going to a designated store once a week to pick up donations they have set aside, and bringing them back to the food bank. The U-District Food Bank could also use help restocking fridges and is looking for home delivery drivers.

Volunteer with the U-District Food Bank: https://www.udistrictfoodbank.org/involved

West Seattle Food Bank

West Seattle Food Bank Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Typical volunteer hours at the West Seattle Food Bank are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and until 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Community members interested in volunteering should sign up for a volunteer orientation to learn more about roles and opportunities.

Volunteer with the West Seattle Food Bank: https://westseattlefoodbank.org/volunteer

White Center Food Bank

White Center Food Bank Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

It takes 20-25 volunteers to run the food bank when it’s open for distribution. The food bank often needs people to help open and close the grocery stores. They are also looking for grocery rescue volunteers for Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Volunteer with the White Center Food Bank: https://www.whitecenterfoodbank.org/volunteer

Immigrants and Refugees

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) Website

Caption: Gates Foundation staff providing volunteer support to ACRS in Seattle, WA.

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

ACRS is looking for support at its food bank or at its community farm. You can also write letters to elders in the community, support ACRS with outreach, or perform much-needed administrative tasks.

Volunteer with the ACRS: https://acrs.org/volunteer

International Rescue Committee Seattle

International Rescue Committee Seattle Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

IRC is looking for long-term volunteers who can commit to three months of support in South King County. You can also team up for a group service day or sign up as an “on-call” volunteer to help people who have fled violence and persecution rebuild their lives.

Volunteer with the International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org/volunteer-opportunities/seattle-wa

Jewish Family Services

Jewish Family Services Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

JWS needs change pretty frequently, but the organization is often looking for food delivery drivers, volunteers to work in their food bank and Friendly Visitor volunteers. JWS also offers seasonal opportunities and will be launching a summer gleaning volunteer series in the next month!

Volunteer with JFS: https://www.jfsseattle.org/get-involved/get-started

Neighborhood House

Neighborhood House Website

Caption: Gates Foundation employees volunteered at the Neighborhood House High Point in Seattle, WA.

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Neighborhood House has a variety of in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities right now—from a yoga instructor to ESL instructor, and front desk support to youth mentoring.

Volunteer with Neighborhood House: https://nhwa.org/get-involved/volunteer

Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)

Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

ReWA’s largest need for volunteers is with their ESL program. Volunteer roles with this program are typically as a classroom assistant or a 1:1 tutor. Volunteers do not need to have any prior ESL experience, and ReWA offers flexible volunteer schedules. There are other various volunteer roles listed on the ReWA website.

Volunteer with ReWA: https://www.rewa.org/get-involved/volunteer

Wellspring Family Services

Wellspring Family Services Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

Wellspring is looking for individual volunteers or groups that can provide administrative support or help in their family store, which provides free clothing and essential items for children.

Volunteer with Wellspring: https://wellspringfs.org/get-involved/volunteerism

World Relief Western Washington

World Relief Western Washington Website

What kind of volunteer projects or skills are most needed right now?

  • Host Homes: People who have extra space in their homes and would be willing to host a refugee or immigrant family for a few weeks while the World Relief team finds them long-term housing.
  • Cultural Companions: Individuals who would be willing to mentor and be a friend to a newly arrived refugee or other immigrant as they navigate their resettlement process.
  • Good Neighbor Teams: Teams of 8-10 people that walk alongside a newly arrived refugee/other immigrant family and provide support during their first six months in the United States.
  • ESL Class Assistants: Individuals who can come partner with one of their ESL teachers 1-2 times a week to help teach and model English for refugee and other immigrant students. (virtual/in-person)

Volunteer with World Relief: https://worldrelief.org/western-wa/get-involved

Caption: Gates Foundation employees volunteer for the United Way Day of Caring in Seattle, WA.

Looking for something else to match your time, needs, and interests?

Explore additional volunteer opportunities on the United Way of King County website.



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