10 nonprofits where your kids can volunteer
Because it is notoriously difficult for teens to get their first job, more and more students are turning to volunteering as a way to build their resume and get that valuable first job reference.
“Teens who volunteer not only gain a perspective beyond their own little world, they also can get valuable work experience that will help them get their first job,” says Cristin Kelso of Sonoma Teen Services.
Sonoma Valley High School salutatorian Sami Von Gober volunteered at Jack London State Park throughout high school and said, "My volunteer experience helped me get my first job sophomore year at Mary's Pizza Shack, as well as great internships and multiple scholarships."
Jack Burkam of the Sonoma Stompers looks for volunteer experience when he hires students for summer jobs. "It indicates an extra drive, which I look for in younger staff," he said. "It also usually means that they have some experience taking direction and working together in an organization to achieve a common goal. All of those are traits we look for in our staff."
A handful of nonprofits in Sonoma Valley accept volunteers as young as 12 and many more will take on students ages 14 and up. Contact each organization directly for their most up-to-date needs and requirements.
Nonprofits that take students ages 12 and up
Art Escape -- Volunteers are welcome from fifth grade up to assist with classes, sorting supplies and office help. Call Art Escape at 938-5551 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boys & Girls Club - Kids beginning in sixth grade can volunteer with the Boy & Girls Club, assisting with programs and camps and general homework help. Contact Nick Haley or Johana Perdomo at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Sonoma Valley Education Foundation - Volunteers ages 14 and up who are enrolled at SVHS and up can help out with the Red & White Ball on August 26 at the Sonoma Plaza. Middle-school volunteers can apply through their leadership class. Contact email@example.com by July 30.
Nonprofits that accept students ages 14 and up
Challenge Sonoma Ropes Course - Twice a year, Sonoma students ages 15 and up can be trained on the local ropes course, and help lead groups on the course throughout the year. Visit challengesonoma.com/training. Rhoten Productions also has teens volunteer at its summer camps until they turn 17 (and can be hired).
La Luz Center - Students ages 14 and up can help out at La Luz with office work, special events, computer and English classes. Submit a volunteer application at laluzcenter.org.
Pets Lifeline - Students age 13 and up can volunteer to help socialize dogs and cats and do office work at Pets Lifeline (and those under 13 can work with a parent). The application is online at petslifeline.org.
Schell-Vista Fire Dept. - The fire department's Explorers program for ages 15 to 21 meets three evenings a month to learn about medical training, firefighting and auto extrication. Contact Adam Lobsinger at 938-2633. schellvistafire.com/explorer-program
Sonoma Valley Regional Library - The library welcomes volunteers ages 14 and up to help with its summer reading program events and throughout the year cleaning books. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sonoma Community Center - Students over 14 can assist with children's art classes or in the ceramics studio with organizing and cleaning. Email email@example.com.
Sonoma Ecology Center - Students ages 14 to 18 can apply for SEC's Enviroleaders program and receive a $500 stipend for a one-season, twice-weekly commitment. All ages are invited to volunteer at the garden on Wednesdays afternoons and Saturday mornings. Contact Jane@sonomaecologycenter.org or call 996-0712x107. Volunteers ages 14 and up are also needed at Sugarloaf Park for trail maintenance the first Saturday monthly. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend.
Sonoma Teen Services - For students 14 and up, STS offers the widest array of choices for volunteering (as well as employment) including its community bike shop, the No Name Cafe at SVHS, the Lovin' Oven bakery and catering operation, after-school tutoring and tasks at the Center itself. Call 939-1452 or visit teenservicessonoma.org.
Sweetwater Spectrum - Teens 15 years and older can volunteer at Sweetwater Spectrum, the local community for adults with autism. Help is needed on the farm, assisting staff with activities and computer work. Email Suzanne Phillips at email@example.com
Recent SVHS graduate Natalie Baker credits volunteering with helping her figure out her passion. "As a junior, I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club helping with social media and design," she explained. "That helped me get a paid internship this year at a local design firm, and now I'm off to college in the fall to major in graphic design."
Have we overlooked any places where teens can volunteer? Contact Lorna at firstname.lastname@example.org.