55 ways to volunteer in the Central Austin community

Courtesy Norah Levine
Courtesy Norah Levine

Courtesy Norah Levine

Image description
Courtesy Girlstart
Editor's Note: This guide to volunteer opportunities was printed in Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin edition in March. While many of these volunteer opportunities are not available under city and county orders to restrict public gatherings and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, these are year-round opportunities that will once again resume when those orders are lifted.

Help out the Central Austin communities in a number of ways by volunteering with local nonprofit groups. Volunteer opportunities included in this guide are available year-round and range from caring for the elderly to beautifying our parks. This list is noncomprehensive.

Senior/disabled resources

1. AGE of Central Texas’ Thrive Social and Wellness Center and Health Equipment Lending Program serve older adults and family caregivers through the Central Texas region. Volunteers can sort donations of durable medical equipment and incontinence projects or assist with engagement activities such as Zumba, trivia, arts and crafts, and bingo during the work week; there are also group opportunities throughout the year.

3710 Cedar St., Austin. 512-451-4611. www.ageofcentraltx.org

2. The Arc of the Capital Area provides education and education advocacy, employment, independent living services, transitional services and dog therapy to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Volunteers help through the education program and during social services where they serve as mentors, assistants and companions to clients.

4902 Grover Ave., Austin. 512-476-7044. www.arcaustin.org

3 . Drive a Senior enables older adults to live independently, avoid social isolation, age in place and enhance their quality of life by providing free transportation and other support services. There is no minimum time commitment for volunteers. Drives typically last between 30 minutes and two hours. To sign up, fill out an application on the website.

West: 2601 Exposition Blvd., Austin. 512-472-6339. www.driveasenior.org

4. Meals on Wheels Central Texas offers homebound older adults and people with disabilities an array of holistic programs—including meal delivery—that help clients maintain their independence and age in place. Volunteers can deliver meals, groceries and pet food by car; grocery shop for clients; and serve as companions for individuals with memory loss.

3227 E. Fifth St., Austin. 512-476-6325. www.mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org

Housing/fighting homelessness

5. Austin Habitat for Humanity helps build homes, repair aging homes, educate homebuyers, offer expert housing counseling and provide foreclosure intervention. Volunteers build and repair homes and support the ReStore, a discount home improvement store and donation center.

500 W Ben White Blvd., Austin. 512-472-8788, ext. 100. www.austinhabitat.org

6. Austin Humanists at Work collects and distributes personal care items once a month in Central Austin to people experiencing homelessness and of limited means. Volunteers can also help with donation pickups and fundraising drives, and knit hats, scarves and washcloths for the people they serve.

Address available upon request. 512-553-2117. www.austinhumanistsatwork.org

7. Caritas of Austin works to prevent and end homelessness in the Austin area by providing safe places to live, access to healthy food, jobs that pay a reliable living wage and the opportunity to learn life skills. Volunteers can work in the organization’s community kitchen, provide administrative support to staff members and work with clients directly.

611 Neches St., Austin. 512-479-4610. www.caritasofaustin.org

8. Foundation Communities is a local, homegrown nonprofit providing affordable, attractive housing to families and individuals with low incomes across the city. Volunteers can work with clients and residents in a variety of ways, such as serving meals, providing free tax-preparation services, financial coaching and tutoring in the after-school program.

3000 S. I-35, Ste. 300, Austin. 512-610-7377. www.foundcom.org

9. LifeWorks is an advocate for youth and families seeking a path to self-sufficiency. The organization’s mission is to make youth homelessness rare, brief and non-reccuring to achieve results for the clients it serves. Volunteers can host donation drives for items like socks, toiletries, and Visa or Mastercard gift cards. Corporate volunteer opportunities are also available.

835 N. Pleasant Valley Road, Austin 512-735-2400. www.lifeworksaustin.org

10. Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a social outreach ministry for individuals experiencing homelessness; it provides food, clothing and other life-sustaining items every night of the year. Volunteers can serve on a food truck or at the organization’s Community First Village, the country’s only master-planned development designed for individuals coming out of chronic homelessness.

9301 Hog Eye Road, Ste. 950, Austin. 512-328-7299. www.mlf.org/volunteer

Education/helping children

11. Austin Partners In Education connects the community and the classroom by placing volunteers right beside students. Through their Math Classroom Coach and Mentoring programs, APIE has seen significant growth in students’ test scores, and most importantly, their self-confidence.

Locations vary. 512-637-0900. www.austinpartners.org

12. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas matches children 6 and older with caring adults who serve as mentors, advocates, resources and guides. Volunteers commit to meeting with their littles three to four times a month for at least one year.

4800 Manor Road, Bldg. K, Austin. 512-472-5437. www.bigmentoring.org

13. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area offer programs and services to help children succeed academically, develop leadership skills, and build character and healthy habits at its 32 local clubs. Volunteers assist with daily power-hour tutoring, homework and general after-school activities, such as fine arts, sports and math. Administrative office:

6648 Ed Bluestein Blvd., Austin. 512-444-7199. www.bgcaustin.org

14. Breakthrough Central Texas helps students to and through college to become the first in their family to earn a college degree. The nonprofit works with students from sixth grade through college graduation, offering advising, out-of-school experiences and programs to build leadership skills. Volunteers are needed to become college application coaches this fall, reviewing essays and college applications in the Austin and Manor school districts.

1050 E. 11th St., Austin. 512-692-9444. www.breakthroughctx.org

15. CASA of Travis County empowers volunteers to serve as court-appointed special advocates for children in the child welfare system. Volunteers spend quality time the children; communicate regularly with family, caregivers, teachers and therapists; participate in case meetings; determine what is in the child’s best interests; and present information and recommendations to a judge in court. No special training, experience or background is needed.

7600 Chevy Chase Drive, Austin

512-459-2272. www.casatravis.org

16. Communities In Schools Central Texas works full-time inside K-12 schools in partnership with teachers and administrators to address immediate student needs. The organization’s mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school. Volunteer opportunities are available at dozens of area schools to meet with students weekly as a mentor, tutor or reading buddy.

3000 S. I 35 Frontage Rd., Austin. 512-462-1771. www.ciscentraltexas.org

17. Explore Austin uses mentoring and outdoor adventure to empower youth from predominantly low-income communities so they can reach their full potential. Through a six-year leadership-based adventure curriculum coupled with social-emotional learning components and long-term mentoring, the organization strengthens the well-being of each participant, their families, and the community.

1111 W. 24th St., Ste. 201, Austin.

512-320-8899. www.exploreaustin.org

18. Girlstart encourages and empowers girls in STEM fields. Volunteers are most needed at the nonprofit’s one-day events, where they help with setting up, leading activities, interacting with families, cleaning up and inspiring children to get involved with STEM subjects.

1400 W. Anderson Lane, Austin. 512-916-4775. www.girlstart.org

19. Helping Hand Home for Children provides residential treatment, therapeutic foster care and adoption services for abused and neglected children. Volunteers can read to children, help with homework, or lead and assist games and activities. The organization accepts volunteer applications two times a year. The group’s website details the application process and due dates.

3804 Avenue B, Austin. 512-600-6053. www.helpinghandhome.org

20. Out Youth serves youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities ages 12-23 with programs designed to promote overall wellbeing, leadership development, health and education, and ease the transition into adulthood. Volunteers can serve in roles at all levels of the organization.

909 E. 49 1/2 St., Austin.

512-419-1233. www.outyouth.org

Health services

21. Alzheimer’s Texas seeks to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, and to enhance care and support for those with the disease, their families and caregivers. Volunteers help facilitate support groups, plan special events, represent the nonprofit at health fairs, and serve as advocates and social media ambassadors.

7719 Wood Hollow Drive, Ste. 157, Austin. 512-241-0420. www.txalz.org

22. Autism Society of Texas is an affiliate of the Autism Society of America that connects families and individuals to resources and support throughout the state. Volunteers can help with programming for individuals with autism and special events such as the organization’s annual bike ride and fun run.

300 E. Highland Mall Blvd., Ste. 205, Austin. 512-479-4199, ext. 4. www.texasautismsociety.org

23. Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas provides education, support and resources to individuals with Down syndrome, their families, professionals and the community while building public awareness and acceptance of the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome. Volunteer opportunities are available at seasonal recreational programs and camps, and a variety of events, including the DSACT Buddy Walk in October.

3710 Cedar St., Box 3, Ste. 287, Austin 512-323-0808. www.dsact.org/volunteer

24. Hospice Austin is a nonprofit that provides care to any person in need, regardless of age, diagnosis or ability to pay. Volunteers provide companionship to patients and their loved ones, offer bereavement support, help in the organization’s administrative offices and spread community awareness. The organization welcomes volunteers with special skills such as acupuncturists, musicians and pet therapy volunteers.

4107 Spicewood Springs Road, Austin. 512-342-4700. www.hospiceaustin.org

25. Power for Parkinson’s offers free fitness, dance and singing classes to people living with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners. The aim of the classes is to slow or reverse the effects of the disease and improve overall well-being. Volunteers assist with signing in attendees, setting up the room for classes, passing out equipment as well as balance spotting for participants.

5555 N. Lamar Blvd., Ste. L121, Austin. 512-464-1277. www.powerforparkinsons.org

26. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas provides housing and support services for families while their children are hospitalized or enduring outpatient treatment to keep families close to each other. The Ronald McDonald House has individual and group volunteer opportunities, including preparing meals, sponsoring meals, cleaning, assisting with hospital activities, helping with special events or hosting drives to collect household items.

Editor's note: Until at least April 30, outside visitors, including meal providers, are not allowed into the Ronald McDonald House. Volunteer can still make a donation to the organization, provide an individually portioned meal from a restaurant or order items to be delivered through a delivery service.

1315 Barbara Jordan Blvd., Austin. 512-472-9844. www.rmhc-ctx.org

27. Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin’s mission is to save babies’ lives by providing prescribed, pasteurized donor human milk. Volunteers can improve the health of preterm and ill infants with opportunities including scrubbing in and processing milk in our lab, labeling life-saving bottles of donor milk and helping with administrative tasks around the office.

5925 Dillard Circle, Austin. 512-494-0800. www.milkbank.org/get-involved/volunteer-your-time

28. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas aims to create healthier communities by providing comprehensive reproductive and related health care services, delivering science-based education programs and serving as an advocate for reproductive justice in Texas. Volunteer opportunities include community outreach, event support and ongoing administrative projects in Planned Parenthood’s office.

201 E. Ben White Blvd., Austin. 512-275-0171. www.ppgreatertx.org

29. Regarding Cancer provides free support services to anyone impacted by cancer, including individuals with a current or past cancer diagnosis, family, friends and caregivers. Volunteers have experienced cancer, either as a survivor or by caring for someone with cancer, and serve in a peer-matching program and oncology center visitation program.

P.O. Box 204451, Austin. 512-213-4993. www.regardingcancer.org

Animals/the environment

30. Austin Animal Center is the city’s no-kill shelter providing care for 16,000 animals each year. Volunteer opportunities include socializing dogs and cats, comforting animals in the ICU, marketing and media, laundry and more. Volunteers are required to attend a training session and commit to six hours a month, but members of the public are welcome to walk socialized “green-dot” dogs without any required training.

7201 Levander Loop, Bldg. A, Austin. 512-978-0500. www.austintexas.gov/department/aac

31 Austin Humane Society is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that operates programs to save Austin’s homeless cats and dogs, engage the community about pet ownership, serve animals and people in times of crisis, and prevent future homelessness through spaying and neutering. Volunteer opportunities range from walking dogs, socializing cats, assisting in the clinic, photographing animals, fostering pets, or helping with fundraising and events.

124 W. Anderson Lane, Austin. 512-646-7387. www.austinhumanesociety.org

32. Austin Parks Foundation partners with the community to make public parks, trails and green spaces better through volunteerism, programming, advocacy and financial support. Volunteers can participate in the It’s My Park Day event, held on the first Saturday in March and November each year, as well as ongoing projects.

1023 Springdale Road, No. 4B, Austin. 512-477-1566. www.austinparks.org

33. Austin Pets Alive! is a nonprofit animal rescue group that uses its resources to create lifesaving programs to save animals at risk of euthanasia. Volunteer opportunities include assisting in the medical clinic, walking dogs, and bottle-feeding kittens. There are at-home opportunities, marketing opportunities as well as helping in the thrift stores.

1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., Austin. 512-961-6519. www.austinpetsalive.org

34. Emancipet is a nonprofit that works to make veterinary care affordable and accessible to all pet owners. The organization manages a national network of clinics. Volunteer opportunities include assisting at fundraising and community events, greeting clients, and collecting and delivering towels for clinics. Clinic locations are in East Austin, Central Austin, Pflugerville and mobile units throughout Austin.

7010 Easy Wind Drive, Ste. 260, Austin. 512-587-7729. www.emancipet.org

35. Keep Austin Beautiful provides resources and education to engage citizens in building more beautiful communities. Volunteers can participate in service projects to clean, preserve, and beautify Austin’s green spaces and waterways. Upcoming events include Keep Austin Beautiful Day on April 18, a countywide day of service featuring thousands of volunteers working at more than 100 sites.

55 N. I-35, Ste. 215, Austin. 512-391-0617


36. The Trail Foundation is dedicated to protecting, enhancing and connecting the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. The foundation works in partnership with the city to add resources the city is not able to provide. On the second or third Saturday of each month, volunteer activities at public events include tree mulching, wildflower seeding and planting. There are also additional, more specialized opportunities to lead volunteer days and help with ecological restoration.

P.O. Box 5195, Austin, 78763

855-448-7245. www.thetrailfoundation.org

The arts

37. Austin Scottish Rite Theater is a nonprofit theater that collaborates with various community groups to produce plays and host events for both youth and adults. Volunteers can assist with box office, ushering, and set and prop construction as well as other production tasks.

207 W. 18th St., Austin. 512-472-5436. www.scottishritetheater.org

38. Ballet Austin involves and strengthens the community through the creation and experience of dance and the encouragement of health and well-being. Volunteers can help with special events, will call, ushering and educational programming.

501 W. Third St., Austin. 512-476-9151. www.balletaustin.org

39. The Contemporary Austin reflects the spectrum of contemporary art through exhibitions, commissions, education and its collection. Volunteers can lead tours of groups of students as a docent or help with visitor relations, education, exhibitions and clerical tasks. The museum’s art school is also accepting applications for teen and adult volunteers for summer children’s classes.

The Contemporary Austin-Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St., Austin. 512-458-8191

The Contemporary Austin-The Jones Center, 700 Congress Ave., Austin. 512-453-5312.


40. The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians provides access to affordable health care for Austin’s low-income, underinsured working musicians with a focus on prevention and wellness. Volunteer opportunities are open year-round and include taking donations at concerts, helping out at community events and assisting the HAAM staff in the office.

3010 S. Lamar Blvd, Ste 200, Austin. 512-541-4226. www.myhaam.org

41. KMFA Classical 89.5 is a nonprofit, listener-supported public radio station that recognizes how classical music inspires and restores the human spirit. Volunteers can assist with mailing, events and projects. The radio station will be moving to a new home on Comal Street in June and will be debuting a media center as well.

3001 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin. 512-476-5632. www.kmfa.org

42. The SIMS Foundation helps members of the local music community and their families access affordable mental health and substance use recovery services. Volunteers primarily help at live music events, spreading the word about SIMS.

3010-B S. Lamar Blvd., Austin.

512-472-1008. www.simsfoundation.org

Community/family support

43. Any Baby Can partners with families to overcome obstacles and achieve well-being. Programs meet clients where they are—at home, work or school—and help them build stability, develop skills and navigate systems so children and families reach their full potential. The organization has a range of ongoing and one-time volunteer activities, including child-care, office support, special events and camp counselors.

6207 Sheridan Ave., Austin. 512-454-3743. www.anybabycan.org

44. Assistance League of Austin is a nonprofit volunteer organization that offers a variety of philanthropic programs, including a toy cart providing gifts to children at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. Other programs include providing new clothing, toiletries and school supplies to children from Austin ISD schools and area shelters. Volunteers must attend an orientation and training session.

4901 Burnet Road, Austin. 512-458-3716. www.alaustin.org

45. The Central Texas Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief charity in Central Texas. Volunteers help prepare food donations for distribution, deliver food to mobile food pantries, lend a hand in the kitchen and garden, and provide nutrition education.

6500 Metropolis Drive, Austin. 512-282-2111. www.centraltexasfoodbank.org

46. Goodwill Central Texas is dedicated to transforming generations by empowering people through education, career training and work. Volunteer opportunities include mentorship, tutoring, career guidance or disassembling computers for resale and recycling.

1015 Norwood Park Blvd., Austin. 512-637-7179. www.goodwillcentraltexas.org

47. Keep Austin Fed is a food rescue organization that works to reduce hunger and help the environment by providing surplus food to those in need. Volunteers are primarily needed for “food rescue runs”—using their own cars to pick food up from donor businesses and deliver it to an organization with a charitable program.

P.O. Box 40760, Austin. 512-831-3654. www.keepaustinfed.org

48. Manos de Cristo provides basic needs assistance to low-income individuals in the form of food, clothing, dental care and educational development. Volunteers help in the food pantry and clothes closet, planning and working at events, with marketing and public relations, complete administrative details, maintain the grounds and tutor. Volunteer dentists are also needed. Every summer, the organization holds a weeklong back-to-school program, which requires hundreds of volunteers.

4911 Harmon Ave., Austin. 512-477-7454. www.manosdecristo.org

49. The SAFE Alliance’s mission is to stop abuse for everyone. It is a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, both longstanding human service agencies serving the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Volunteers can help by engaging in recreational activities, by tutoring and positive interaction with clients, or by assisting in light office and facility projects.

4800 Manor Road, Bldg. A, Austin

1515 Grove Blvd, Austin. 512-267-7233. www.safeaustin.org

50. Skillpoint Alliance provides free hands-on training in the construction, health care, and manufacturing industries to individuals in the Austin area. The organization’s mission is to ensure every resident in the area has access to a successful career pathway. Volunteers are needed with experience in the electrical, HVAC, manufacturing, plumbing or nursing industries to provide career advice and answer students’ questions.

8868 Research Blvd., Ste. 505, Austin. 512-323-6773. www.skillpointalliance.org

51. Special Olympics Texas provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Volunteers can register with a specific team or delegation—as a coach, chaperone, driver or medical support—or for specific events, administrative tasks, communications, fundraising and outreach.13400 Immanuel Road, Ste. 1C, Pflugerville 512-835-9873. www.sotx.org 52 Ten Thousand Villages of Austin is a fair-trade, nonprofit retail store providing income and opportunity to artisans in developing countries by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories. Every design is handcrafted using local materials by makers around the world. The store is run almost entirely by volunteers, who greet customers, provide information about the store’s mission and products, create product displays and complete sales transactions.

4803 Burnet Road, Austin. 512-440-0440. www.tenthousandvillages.com/austin.

53. United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas and resources together to fight poverty in the local community. United Way mobilizes thousands of volunteers annually, and opportunities range from one-time projects to those requiring more significant time and commitment. Upcoming communitywide events include Spring Day of Caring on May 15 and Fall Day of Caring on Sept. 25.

2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd., Austin. 512-472-6267. https://volunteer.uwatx.org

54. We Are Blood, formerly The Blood Center of Central Texas, is the exclusive provider and guardian of the community blood supply for more than 40 medical facilities in the 10-county service area of Central Texas. Volunteers can assist with blood drives, serve refreshments in donor centers, provide office support and transport blood product using the center’s vehicles.

4300 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin 512-206-1266. www.weareblood.org

55. The YMCA of Austin is dedicated to building programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Volunteer opportunities at the YMCA’s Town Lake Branch include youth sports coaching, helping with community events and programs, child care support at the location, cleaning and greeting.

Town Lake YMCA,1100 W. Cesar Chavez St., Austin


East Communities YMCA,

5315 Ed Bluestein Blvd., Austin



This list is not comprehensive.