Our Mission

Transforming our community and ourselves through volunteerism, empowering everyone to Be the Difference.

volunteer-center-doorsWhen people are connected to causes they care about and given the right tools and support, everything changes for good. Real connections power personal happiness, strong families, healthy businesses, and vibrant communities.

The Home for Volunteerism in Santa Cruz County

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is a "one-stop shop" for all things volunteer related for individuals, organizations, and businesses.

We connect people, organizations, and businesses to:

  • TRANSFORM LIVES through our programs in Mental Health, Restorative Justice, Family Support, and Empowered Aging.
  • BUILD COMMUNITY through large-scale community events and initiatives - Be the Difference Awards, Santa Cruz Gives, Mass Vaccinations, and Disaster Response.
  • VOLUNTEER for GOOD through volunteer match programs, pairing volunteers with agency partners and local nonprofits.  And, we partner with local businesses that want to invest their resources in building a more connected community.

Rooted in Action

We were founded by dreamers and activists in 1967 who believed people could make our community better by coming together in service. Three of the four original programs—Volunteer Transportation, Literacy, and Volunteer Matching—are still going strong. We opened our Watsonville Center in 1969 and have served Santa Cruz County for over 50 years.

We got our start in 1967, when  Marian McBee, Kathryn Merriam, and Marget Schaeffer, three remarkable women inspired by their passion for social work, set up shop at a loaned office space in downtown Santa Cruz to develop volunteer programs that would change the lives of residents in need. Their goal was to give a community voice to the most disenfranchised in Santa Cruz County.

They set the stage for a long history of volunteers working in partnership with local residents who desire a hand of support, a deeper connection with their community, and the opportunity to invest in outcomes that lead to greater prosperity for themselves and others.

Through their inspired beginnings, years of sweat equity by community members, and a growing collective of dedicated staff and leadership, the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County has evolved into what we now have today- 4 facilities, 22 programs, and over 14,000 volunteers who partner with over 7,000 community residents in need.

Together,  we are giving our time, talent and resource to make Santa Cruz County a happier, healthier place to live.


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