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Volunteer abroad, Gap year in San Francisco


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What is a volunteer job

Volunteer service contributes to the well-being of an individual or the community, and is usually coordinated by a non-profit or public sector organization, and usually it does not pay any salary or wage. However, there are programs where volunteers (especially for international programs) in which accommodation, meals, flights, and sometimes a small amount of money is provided.

Volunteering in the USA

In the United States, there are many short-term or one-time volunteer opportunities. Coat drives, food drives, and special events take place that need people to help only for the length of the event. This kind of volunteering is usually fairly informal with helpers filling out a simple registration and then just pitching in. Accommodations and meals are not typically covered in these situations.

There are many different opportunities to volunteer within San Francisco:

Lattitude Global Volunteering is a not-for-profit organization which offers voluntary work placements overseas for 17-25 year-old's, in a transition year before going on to further education, training or employment. Lattitude's goal is to have a positive impact on the communities in which they volunteer. There are several different areas of interest including medical, environmental, schools, and community development. Depending on your country of residence and the project you are interested in, costs and time away vary, but there are several scholarship programs. Flights and accommodation are usually included. Apply on-line at http://www.lattitude.org.uk.

Project Homeless Connect enlists over 1000 volunteers at each event to engage homeless San Franciscans and connect them to needed services. Now a bi-monthly event, PHC volunteers work to connect the homeless with: Dental Services, DMV IDs, Eyeglasses, Family Services, Food, HIV testing, Housing Information, Hygiene Products, Medical Care, Mental Health Services, Methadone and Needle Exchange and much more. Their website lists events and positions.

Rebuilding Together helps people create a safe home by volunteers donating money, material, time, and expertise to the construction. If you have the skills or time, go to their website.

San Francisco Food Bank 300 tons of food move through the food bank every week. Volunteers help sort, package and ready it for distribution. Short-term and long-term volunteering available at http://www.sffoodbank.org/.

Golden Gate Park Volunteers help maintain the park by collecting data on wildlife, presenting education programs, and restoring historic structures. Opportunities for drop-in volunteers and long-term programs at www.nps.gov/goga/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm.

Girl Ventures offers young girls the opportunity to enjoy outdoor adventure and community. Volunteers work as role models, fundraisers, and outdoor explorers. To find out more about these opportunities, go to their website www.girlventures.org/volunteer/fairy.shtml.

For more opportunities, try these volunteer searches and lists:

You will find more information on summer jobs, holiday jobs or internship abroad in our other articles on the left column of this page. You will find also details on visa and health insurance in those sections.

Update 16/11/2009


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