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Top 10 volunteer opportunities in Santa Cruz County | May 2023

Volunteers meeting
Volunteering has profoundly transformative effects on our community and the people who volunteer. Check out the Volunteer Center’s extensive database for the right opportunities for you.
(Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County)

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is the home for all things volunteering - whether you are an individual, group, organization, or business. Since 1967, The Volunteer Center has matched volunteers to local causes, transforming our community for good.

Volunteering help to raise awareness and break down stigmas surrounding mental health
The Volunteer Center makes it easy to do meaningful work that you care about in Santa Cruz County.
(Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County)

In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month we’re highlighting ten volunteer opportunities that support positive mental health outcomes in Santa Cruz County.

For the last 50+ years the Volunteer Center has witnessed firsthand the profoundly transformative effects volunteering has on our community and the people who offer their time. Volunteering not only helps to raise awareness and break down stigmas surrounding mental health, but it also provides a unique opportunity for people to connect across differences while increasing empathy and building equity across within the community.

Volunteering in your community changes us for good as much as it does our world

Doing meaningful work that you care about - even if it is difficult, like putting on a tyvex suit and shoveling toxic mud for 6 hours as hundreds of volunteers did in Pajaro; or sad, like comforting families who have lost people to cancer; or even infuriating, like cleaning trash from our beautiful beaches - changes us for good as much as it does our world.

Some additional benefits to volunteering include:

  • Busting stigmas for labeled, othered and excluded people - including people struggling with mental health disorders.
  • Erasing the false narrative that some people are assets (the helpers) and some people are liabilities (the needy, the takers) in our community.
  • Creating a safe social space where people can connect across differences.
  • Increasing self-esteem and sense of purpose, and a decrease in social isolation, stress and anxiety.

If you’re interested in gaining some of these benefits and helping others too, here are the top ten local volunteer job opportunities in the mental health space:

1. Stars for Pajaro Donation Drive

May 1-21, 2023 in Capitola
Volunteers are needed to staff the Volunteer Center Donation Warehouse, as well as make donations of essential clothing and toiletries items for Pajaro Flood Evacuees.

2. Queer Youth Leadership Awards

May 13, 2023 in Santa Cruz
Queer Youth Task Force (QYTF) seeks volunteers for the awards event on May 13, 2023. Volunteers are needed all day and even into the night on May 13, 2023

3. Horses Helping Humans Program Manager

Ongoing in Scotts Valley • Canham Farm Horse Rescue Inc.
Do you have experience working with horses and are you great with people from all different types of backgrounds and abilities? If yes, join the Horses Helping Humans program, an equine therapy program that serves people who could benefit from interacting with horses.

4. Walking Group Volunteer

Ongoing, Santa Cruz, CA
Support the Walking Group Program Provide support from planning or leading Walking Adventure Group. Helping seniors to stay active, engaged, and connected with their community.

5. Friendly Visitor For Isolated Seniors

Ongoing, Santa Cruz, CA
I-You Venture is seeking individuals to visit seniors living in care facilities. As a volunteer, you can help reduce the isolation and loneliness that many residents face every day. volunteers to ideally commit for a period of six to twelve months. Volunteers for this project are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and follow all health protocols of the care facilities.

6. Hotline Advocate for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Ongoing, Santa Cruz, CA
A hotline advocate provides peer emotional support, safety-planning and crisis intervention support to survivors of domestic violence and their allies regarding current or recent domestic violence. Previous experience is not required.

7. Help Seniors Stay Connected

Ongoing, Volunteer-from-Home
Volunteers are needed to provide support to seniors remotely, over the phone or via zoom, in order to help our community

8. Volunteer with Suicide Prevention Service

Ongoing, Santa Cruz, CA
Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast is looking for new suicide crisis line volunteers! Our crisis hotline serves the tri-county area of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz. Join us for a rewarding experience while learning active listening skills, self-care, and suicide and crisis intervention techniques.

9. Friends Outside Peer Coach

Ongoing, Santa Cruz County, CA
Friends Outside is a program that supports the incarcerated, their family members, and those recently released in Santa Cruz County. We are looking for passionate, empathetic volunteers to be case managers and peer coaches for our program!

10. Help Seniors Access Health Insurance as a HICAP Volunteer counselor

Ongoing, Santa Cruz, CA
The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) provides free and unbiased Medicare counseling and advocacy for seniors of Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. HICAP provides training to help you become a successful volunteer.-Individuals tackle the training at their own pace.

What works for you?

The key to gaining all of these benefits from volunteering is to volunteer for a cause that means something to you. We each have different needs when it comes to volunteering. If you are not feeling moved to sign up by any of the opportunities listed here, the Volunteer Center will connect you with an organization that matches your interests and availability:

The Volunteer Center also helps nonprofit organizations find volunteers to support their work. Register as an Organization and let us match your cause to volunteers who care.

top 10 mental health volunteer opportunities
(Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County)


The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County (VCSCC) has been connecting individuals, organizations and businesses for good since 1967. Each year VCSCSC engages with more than 500 community partners and more than 15,000 volunteers who connect meaningfully to help more than 9,000 residents in need. In addition to volunteer engagement and placement, VCSCC administers 19 programs to support community need, seniors, families, youth, disaster response, and government partnerships to make Santa Cruz County a happier, healthier place to live. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook and Instagram.