Quick Take:

Santa Cruz County’s 65-84 age bracket grew by 81% between 2010 and 2020, according to Census data, and whether it’s...

Community circles both locally and nationally have been abuzz about an anticipated surge in demand for senior services in Santa Cruz County in the coming years. And, as Lookout Santa Cruz’s Christopher Neely reported recently, “this silver tsunami is approaching Santa Cruz County faster than any other county in the state.” According to the Seniors Council of Santa Cruz and San Benito County, between 2010 and 2020, the county’s 65-84 age bracket grew by 81%, more than double the average 40% increase statewide.

The rising demand extends across various sectors: from food and transportation to health care advocacy; to ensuring our elder community remains safe, connected, and vibrant.

However, there’s a silver lining: Santa Cruz County has dozens of nonprofit organizations already servicing the senior community. And, our community routinely demonstrates a willingness, a passion, to step up and help those in need. Your volunteer support today is critical to sustaining these organizations as they shore up resources and expand programs to meet this silver wave.

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County has put together this list of Top Ten Ways to Volunteer and Help Seniors in Santa Cruz County. This month’s list is a little different – highlighting ten organizations that need volunteers now. Whether you have a lot of time, or just an hour or two, there is a volunteer opportunity listed here that is perfect for you. All you have to do is sign up, and show up!

Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County October PC
Credit: Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

1. Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

Help Seniors Stay Connected

Stay-at-Home Volunteer Opportunity! Volunteers phone or video chat with seniors to check on their well-being, socialize and talk about things of common interest. Volunteers are asked to commit to one phone call a week for at least 6-weeks to help build relationships and end isolation for seniors at home.

Helping Hands Senior Home Repair

Home Repair Volunteers are needed to provide safety home repairs for low income senior homeowners. Repairs include safety modifications such as grab bars and handrails, installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and providing safety home inspections to assure seniors are safe in their homes.

CitySERVEWalking Group Volunteer

Help seniors to stay active, engaged, and connected with their community. Volunteers should have the ability to walk independently, follow maps, support group check-ins, track participants while out walking.

2. Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) powered by the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

Certified Coach for Fall Prevention Programs

Become a certified coach for Fall Prevention Programs! A Coach co-leads our award-winning Matter of Balance class sessions and teaches seniors safety and resiliency tips that will help reduce falls thereby reducing injury, boosting confidence, and increasing independent living.

Grocery Shopper Volunteer

Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County October PC
Credit: Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

Grocery shopper volunteers provide an invaluable service by shopping and delivering groceries to local seniors. If you love to shop and want a volunteer opportunity with a flexible schedule, this role is for you!

Transportation Hero for a Senior

Volunteer drivers are needed to provide seniors and disabled individuals round-trip transportation for essential trips to the doctor or to buy groceries. As a volunteer, your schedule is completely flexible; you drive when you have time and no regular commitment is required. Volunteer dispatchers are also needed!

3. Advocacy Inc.

Residents’ Rights Advocate!

As a volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman, you can help effect change by advocating for residents living in our community’s skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. You will make regular visits to long-term care (LTC) facilities and assist residents in resolving concerns about care and resident rights.Bilingual volunteers are encouraged to apply!

4. Grey Bears

Grey Bears Warehouse and Kitchen Support

Come help support Grey Bears with our food donations and kitchen! This is a great opportunity for volunteers who want to share their cooking skills or learn how to create delicious and beautiful meals. It’s also a fantastic team-building volunteer opportunity for colleagues, classes, and groups who want to work together to help others in the community.

Online Book Lister

List books online to support Grey Bears and support their mission to improve the health and wellness of seniors through volunteerism and community participation. The scheduling for this opportunity is flexible and basic computer literacy is needed.

Thrift Store Cashier, Sorting, and Customer Service

Gain retail experience by volunteering as a cashier in the Grey Bears Thrift Store! Assist in sorting donated items and support customers in the store. All proceeds from Grey Bears thrift store sales support the Brown Bag Program, providing healthy groceries to local seniors each week.

5. Heartland Hospice

Hospice Volunteer

Hospice volunteers offer support, companionship, and practical, compassionate help to patients and their families. Whether you are interested in working directly with patients or prefer behind the scenes work in the office, there is a volunteer role for you!

Memory Bear Maker

Heartland Hospice is looking for a volunteer or a group of volunteers that can sew and make memory bears out of patients’ clothes. Bears are made at the volunteer’s home and offered to the bereaved family members. This is a wonderful volunteer opportunity for a sewing club or group who wants a challenging sewing project that will comfort the hearts of bereaved families.

6. Alzheimer’s Association

Community Outreach Representative

Community Representatives are engagers that raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Association programs, provide basic disease information, and link consumers to Alzheimer’s Association services. Raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Association programs and provide basic disease information to help our community thrive!

Spanish Speaking Community Educator

Spanish Community Educators provide Alzheimer’s Association education to community audiences. All the training and materials are provided. Spanish speaking, public speaking experience are required, and personal experience with dementia a plus.

7. Meals on Wheels, Santa Cruz

Deliver Meals on Wheels

Volunteers deliver meals to our sites in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, shifts are Monday through Friday, between 11:00am and 12:30am with the option to stay and help check-in guests and serve meals. Choose whichever day works best for you, and help fight food insecurity for seniors in your community.

Office Support Volunteer

Volunteers are needed to support the Meals on Wheels program through a variety of office and administrative tasks.

Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County October PC
Credit: Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

8. I You Venture, A Program of Family Service Agency

Artist and Crafts people needed for Ageless Art Project

Become an Ageless Art Project volunteer and share the gift of art and creativity with senior residents in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

Friendly Visitor For Isolated Seniors

As a volunteer visitor, you can help seniors in residential care feel less isolated and lonely. Friendly Visitor Volunteers engage with seniors through various activities, including arts and crafts, games, music, reading, and simply sharing memories. Help brighten a senior’s day by sharing your time and interests with them!

9. Project SCOUT

Help People With Taxes

Project SCOUT provides free tax help to seniors, families, and individuals with earned income of $58,000 or less. They offer a range of volunteer opportunities from general phone support to interpreter / translation services to tax preparation, coaching, and consulting services. During tax season the need is especially high. Contact Project SCOUT today and learn how you can help.

Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County October PC
Credit: Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

10. Senior Network Services

Help Seniors Access Health Insurance as a HICAP Volunteer counselor

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.

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.


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 scvolunteercenter.org or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Over the past decade, Christopher Neely has built a diverse journalism résumé, spanning from the East Coast to Texas and, most recently, California’s Central Coast.Chris reported from Capitol Hill...