How You Can Get Involved in the Los Angeles Community
Los Angeles is booming! More than 3.8 million residents live in the city, and the population grew by more than 100,000 people between 2010 and 2020.
But not everyone in the Los Angeles community is doing well. If you have spare time and money to give, you should consider participating in Los Angeles volunteer opportunities. There are quite a few you can choose from.
What needs are most pressing for Los Angeles residents? How can you indulge in your love of art? What are some important institutions that need volunteers?
Answer these questions and you can help thousands of Los Angeles residents in substantial ways. Here is your comprehensive guide.
Sign Up for VolunteerLA
VolunteerLA is a service that the Los Angeles city government runs. You volunteer directly with the city and you participate in community service projects that the government sponsors.
In the past, the City of Los Angeles has asked for volunteers to run COVID-19 tests and administer vaccinations. Volunteers can work at homeless shelters, perform administrative tasks, and set up bedding for vulnerable people.
Listings are posted on its website every day, so check back regularly for new opportunities. You can also find opportunities outside of Los Angeles in Long Beach and Pasadena.
Volunteer at a Food Bank
34% of households in Los Angeles experienced food insecurity at one point between April and December 2020. Working in a food bank can help you feed thousands of needy people a day.
You can volunteer at food banks in a few different ways. You can cook meals and serve food to people. You can sort through donated food items and repackage them so people can pick them up and prepare their own meals.
Most food banks are open on weekdays, and you can volunteer after you are done with work. You can also work at special events, including Thanksgiving dinners.
You can find food banks all over the city. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank helps run food pantries in many neighborhoods, including Little Tokyo and Westlake North. You can participate in programs that help specific people like veterans or children.
Some people cannot access food at food banks due to mobility issues or tight schedules. If you have a car, you can sign up to deliver meals to hungry people.
Meals on Wheels helps elderly and disabled people receive food. Students and young people can volunteer, as long as they have valid licenses and insurance. You can deliver meals between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on weekdays, and you can go to Westwood and Bel-Air.
If you prefer to walk around, you can volunteer with Food on Foot. You can bring bags of food and clothes to homeless people, including your neighbors. Food on Foot runs a Sunday delivery program, making a good choice if you can’t volunteer during weekdays.
Drive People Around
You can also use your car to give people free rides to important locations. For most driving volunteer opportunities, you must have a good driving record and a safe vehicle. You are responsible for keeping your vehicle clean and maintaining it properly.
The Braille Institute is currently looking for drivers to give rides to people who use its services. You must pass a background check and fingerprint screening, but you can drive people anywhere in the city. You do not have to pay fees, and the institute will help you cover gas and other expenses.
The American Cancer Society runs the Road to Recovery Program. People who are receiving cancer treatment and cannot drive themselves can get free rides to medical appointments.
Work at a Museum
Most of Los Angeles’s museums are looking for volunteers. Each museum needs different people, but you can sign up to lead tours, work in gift shops, and clean facilities.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has several programs that need volunteers. Its Museum Service Council provides support to the administrative staff and curators.
As a volunteer, you can work in the museum’s libraries and host special events. Volunteers can receive invitations to private tours and lectures with the museum’s curators.
Members of LACMA’s Docent Council run guided tours and show works of art to guests. You do not need an art background to become a docent.
The California Science Center has more unique opportunities. You can become a volunteer scuba diver and work in the museum’s aquarium. You can even try out aquatic husbandry, feeding animals and observing their behavior.
Some volunteer opportunities require you to sign contracts. You may need to work a few hours a week every week for several months. Read over the terms of the volunteer position before you sign up for it.
Volunteer at a Library
The Los Angeles Public Library system has 73 locations, including the Central Library at 630 West 5th Street. Nearly all locations are looking for volunteers, though opportunities vary from location to location. Take a look at the branch near you to see what is available.
The Central Library needs volunteers in several departments. You can work as a tutor in the Adult Literacy Program, helping adult students learn how to read and write. You can also work with new English learners, especially if you have fluency in another language.
Docents lead art and architecture tours of the Central Library. You can point out interesting works of art and architectural features, and you can bring guests through the Maguire Gardens. You can conduct guided tours with adult learners and schoolchildren.
Inventory aides help with shelving and picking up items left on tables. Working in the inventory department is labor-intensive, so you should only do it if you are prepared to walk around a lot.
STAR volunteers read books to children two hours a week. If you prefer to work with teenagers, you can help them with their homework and guide them around the library. Teenagers can volunteer as homework helpers or guides as well.
Help at the Airport
Both LAX and Van Nuys Airport need volunteers. If you join the Volunteer Information Professionals program, you will work in information booths and direct guests to different parts of the airport. You can also help people load their bags and get to exits.
Shifts are four hours long, so be prepared to work for a long period of time. Shifts are available on weekdays and weekends, and you can work multiple shifts a week.
If you or a loved one is a high school student, you can sign up for the LAXceeders program. This is a volunteer program for students that is nearly identical to the Volunteer Information Professionals program. Students must volunteer for at least two hours a week, but they can participate at any time that works for them.
The LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers program lets you work with therapy dogs. You can handle the dogs and walk them around LAX terminals. You must have one year of experience working with a dog therapy group, and you must own your own dog.
Participate in Animal Services
The City of Los Angeles Animal Services Department runs six separate animal shelters. The department saved more than 3,600 animals in May 2022 alone, and much of its work occurs thanks to volunteers.
You can walk and bathe dogs and take care of cats and rabbits. You can also help the Animal Services Department with its website and marketing, taking photographs of the animals and writing social media posts about them.
All volunteers must attend an orientation and receive training. Teenagers can volunteer, but people aged 12-15 must have an adult sponsor who they will volunteer with. You must volunteer at least six hours a month for six months.
The Los Angeles Zoo needs volunteers to prepare meals and research its 1,200 animals and 7,500 plants. You can take notes on how animals play, move, and eat. You can work alongside animal care programs on strategies to support animals that need help.
Smaller organizations also need volunteers. The International Bird Rescue helps injured and oiled birds recover and return to their natural habitats.
Plant Some Trees
Trees in urban areas remove more than 710,000 metric tons of air pollution every year. They also cool down walking areas, making it easier for people to exercise and remain outside.
TreePeople is an organization that plants and maintains trees throughout Southern California. The group hosts events every weekend and on most mornings during the week. You can go to events outside of Los Angeles, or you can volunteer in neighborhoods that have only a few trees.
TreePeople will give you training so you can participate in multiple events. If you want to move your company to LA and get it involved in the community, you can sign up for the Teams for Trees program.
City Plants drops off trees for private residents to plant in their backyards. You can volunteer to deliver and plant trees.
You can also become a Block Leader, taking charge of the trees on your residential block. You can work with your neighbors to purchase, plant, and maintain trees over the years.
The Department of Recreation and Parks is also looking for planters. You can plant trees or flowers in parks and gardens throughout the city.
Register for Classes
Many local community organizations offer classes to Los Angeles residents. The YMCA has several locations around Los Angeles, and you can find free classes at each one. You can learn about making art, preparing nutritious meals, and exercising.
You will need to become a YMCA member in order to take classes. But most classes are free for members, and you can take as many of them as you want. You can also use the YMCA’s other resources like swimming pools and exercise centers.
You can join a book club, knitting circle, or running group as well. Feel free to create a group with your friends and family members. Ask your friends if there are any groups that you can join.
If you want to teach classes, you can do so at several locations. The Valley Jewish Community Center is looking for people to lead classes on any subject they have an interest in. You do not have to be Jewish to lead a class, and you can teach the class over Zoom.
Start Donating to Charities
Charities are always in need of money. If you have a favorite charity, you should continue to donate to it. You can become a member and give money every month or year.
If you want something in return for your money, you can buy items at charity shops. The proceeds go to charity and you can get something you need for yourself.
Charities that help Los Angeles residents include the Downtown Women’s Center. It is the only organization in the city that focuses exclusively on helping women, including women who have dealt with homelessness. You can give money or buy gift cards that people in the center can use.
You can also help The People Concern. It is a social service agency that helps residents get housing and health care. You can help victims of domestic violence, veterans, and challenged youth through monetary donations.
Feel free to launch fundraisers to support your favorite charities. Fun runs, bake sales, and yard sales are always popular. If the weather is not good for a yard sale, you can use storage facilities to store your furniture and then wait until conditions improve.
Help the Los Angeles Community
The Los Angeles community is waiting for you. Many residents need food and housing, so you can join VolunteerLA or work in a food bank to provide meals and homes. Other residents need rides to work and medical appointments, which you can give.
Important institutions like the Los Angeles Public Library, LAX, and Animal Services Department need volunteers. You can join them at any point in the year. You can also give your money to charities or run special events.
You can’t volunteer in LA until you move to LA. Move Central serves Southern California residents. Contact us today.