10 Ways to Make a Difference During Global Volunteer Month

Seven Youthserve volunteers pose with shovels in a field of mown grass, preparing to volunteers for the Homeless Garden project.

April is Global Volunteer Month, and the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is leading the charge with volunteer opportunities taking place every day in April.

 The U.S. Surgeon General’s Office recently highlighted in an advisory the negative health impacts of loneliness, isolation, and social disconnection, referring to the situation as an epidemic in the U.S.

Negative health effects of loneliness, as cited in the publication, include:
● Higher risk of disease
● Higher levels of depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide
● Lower academic achievement and work performance

The Surgeon General’s advisory underscores what has been known for over 50 years: volunteering combats loneliness by fostering social interaction and enhancing well- being, and builds empathy and raises awareness of community needs, creating a more equitable and vibrant community for all.

10 Volunteer Opportunities that Will Make a Difference

No matter your age, location, or amount of time your have available – there’s a meaningful way for you to make a difference. Keep reading learn our Top 10 Volunteer Opportunities this month. And, if you don’t find what you are looking for here, we’ve listed even MORE at https://www.scvolunteernow.org/calendar.

1. Capture the Spirit of Volunteerism as a Photographer or Content Creator
Ongoing, County-wide
If you have a knack for photography or social media, the Volunteer Center needs your help! We’re looking to build a team of volunteer content creators to attend volunteer activities across the county –  documenting volunteer stories and impact through photos, videos, and written stories that will inspire others to take time to give back.

2. Get Your Hands Dirty at Common Roots Farm
Ongoing, Santa Cruz
Volunteering at Common Roots Farm is not just about agriculture; it’s about cultivating community and inclusion. Here, people with and without disabilities work side by side, stewarding the earth and creating lasting friendships.

3. Serve Meals at St. Francis Catholic Kitchen
Weekdays, Santa Cruz
By cooking and serving meals at St. Francis Catholic Kitchen, you provide not just nourishment but also warmth and companionship to those in need, affirming the kitchen’s 40-year legacy of community service.

4. Connect with Seniors Through Stay Connected Program
Ongoing, Volunteer-at-home
Volunteer to make regular phone calls to seniors, providing companionship and a link to the broader community. Your call could be the highlight of someone’s day, combating social isolation with conversation and care.

5. Join the Clean-up at San Lorenzo Park
April 13, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Santa Cruz
Be part of the first community clean-up of 2024 at San Lorenzo Park. It’s an opportunity to beautify a shared space and celebrate the spirit of community service with neighbors.

6. Honor Cesar Chavez at the Homeless Garden Project
April 14, 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM, Santa Cruz
Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day with service at the Homeless Garden Project. It’s a day to connect with the earth and community, learning about sustainable agriculture and making a tangible difference in the lives of the homeless.

7. Help at the Scotts Valley Food Pantry
Every Thursday, Morning and Evenings, Scotts Valley
The Scotts Valley Food Pantry is calling for volunteers to help address food insecurity. Whether it’s setting up in the morning or distributing food in the evening, your help is crucial in supporting community members in need.

8. Participate in Senior Yard Clean-Up Day
April 20, 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM, Watsonville
Join the effort to help seniors at Portola Heights Mobile Home Park with yard clean-up. This is a fun volunteer collaboration between YouthServe and the  Monterey Bay Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Help seniors clean up their yards and get ready for spring!

9. Restore Wetland Habitat with Watsonville Wetlands Watch
April 27, 2024, 10:00 AM  – 1:00 PM in Watsonville
Dedicate a Saturday to restoring wetland and upland habitats. The volunteer work includes planting native plants, removing exotic invasive plants, or helping in our native plant greenhouse. The events take place from 9 am until 12 noon – plus extra time for bird watching or a short hike around the wetlands.

10. Be a Phone Buddy for Someone Experiencing Homelessness
Ongoing, Volunteer-at-Home
Miracle Friends offers a unique volunteer opportunity to support individuals experiencing homelessness through weekly calls or texts, providing friendship and emotional support without the need for direct contact.

Whether you’re passionate about environmental conservation, community service, or simply want to lend a helping hand, there’s a place for you. Visit scvolunteernow.org/calendar to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you and make a lasting impact in Santa Cruz County.

Remember, every act of volunteerism, no matter how small, contributes to a happier, healthier, and more connected community. Can’t wait to see you at a volunteer event this month!