“What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good” so said Aristotle over 2300 years ago. In Marin County, where many of us are fortunate to live amongst such beauty and comfort, there are still many who struggle daily and causes that need our attention and support. There are no shortages of ways to volunteer and make a difference. Herewith is a cross section of organizations that benefit both the communities they serve and the volunteers who serve them.
Tons of healthy fresh food are thrown into landfill yet 1 in 5 Marin residents suffer from food insecurity. ExtraFood is a company that picks up excess food from any Marin organization including grocery stores, schools, farmer’s market, corporate cafeterias and immediately delivers it to nonprofit partners serving our community. Their staff locates food donations that match their safety net partners’ needs such as fresh produce, dairy, eggs, meat packaged and baked goods and delivers it to areas of greatest needs especially the “food deserts” of the Canal, Marin City and West Marin. You can help as a volunteer food runner. Drive to an organization that has food to donate and then drive the food to a Marin nonprofit. That’s it!
Marin Villages was formed in 2007 as a response to a study that found Marin County with one of the fastest aging counties in the State. Many of its’ older citizens find it harder to stay in their homes. An alliance of local villages was formed to assist senior to stay engaged through events and programs. In addition, members of Marin Villages can call the central office with a request and Marin Villages finds a volunteer who can assist. Marin Villages serves all communities in Marin with the exception of Sausalito and West Marin. Marin Villages is piloting a dashboard where a volunteer can look at opportunities and sign up for as many or few as meet their interest and schedule.
Founded in 1954, Whistlestop promotes the independence, wellbeing and quality of life for older adults and those living with disabilities. Their active aging center provides, healthy meals, classes, programs, resources, multicultural gatherings and information. It also provides transportation services throughout Marin for its’ clients. Volunteer opportunities include delivering meals, teaching a class, organizing an activity, serving meals, or working the welcome desk.
In 1997 members of the Bay Marin Community Church found there were more than 1200 homeless children living in Marin under the care of a single mother. The mission of this organization is to create a stable environment through providing a home for homeless families. By 2011, a home was built in Novato to house 6 families at a time. In 2015, a 12 unit apartment building was purchased in Novato to house more families. Gilead House continues to look at creating housing opportunities for its’ clients. There are volunteer opportunities to help with childcare and tutoring as well as facilities maintenance.
Clothes make the man. We live in a image conscious society. But what if you cannot afford clothes for a job interview or for school. Bloom is a non profit organization that helps their clients as they transition to a life of self reliance by providing life skills training and complimentary wardrobes. They accept new and gently worn clothes at their two locations both to sell to fund their work and to offer complimentarily to their clients. There are volunteer opportunities both in the retail shop, helping clients put together wardrobes to enable them to be self reliant, intake support of sorting steaming and organizing clothes and administrative work.
Wildcare’s mission is to advocate for wildlife through stewardship, nature education and wildlife rehabilitation. Their nature education program reach more than 40,000 Bay Area children and adults each year and their wildlife hospital treat over 4000 injured and orphaned wildlife patients each year. Volunteer opportunities abound such as becoming a Terwilliger Nature Guide, wildlife hospital volunteer, wildlife ambassador volunteer, work as an intern, as an ad hoc volunteer or provide a release site for a rehabilitated wild animal.
The Marin County Parks and Open Space Volunteer program engages in the active stewardship of open space and parks in Marin County. There are 5 programs that offer a diverse list of opportunities whatever your availability, skillset and age. They include:
May you find a cause that calls to you. What you give will be rewarded many times over in the joy you will feel for your efforts.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”- William Shakespeare
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”- Muhammad Ali
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill