outdoor wheelbarrow
Great Ways to Volunteer in the Great Outdoors
With Montgomery County continuing to make progress on reopening, you may be itching to get out and volunteer. And with public health guidance generally favoring outdoor activities, you might be particularly interested in volunteering outside. If so, check out these opportunities.
SSL preapproved
FARM HELP: Assist with gardening, animal care, site maintenance, and more at Button Farm Living History Center in Germantown. Activities available for individuals and small groups, with most performed outdoors, on the 40-acre farm. Minimum age: 16. Email Anthony Cohen or call 202-903-4140 for questions.
CONSTRUCTION VOLUNTEERS: Learn on-the-job construction skills while helping to build a new universal design home in Prince George's County for Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland. Minimum age: 18. Sign up online and check back frequently as opportunities are added and filled first-come, first-served. Email Sandra Limjuco for questions.
SSL preapproved
BIKE EVENT ASSISTANTS: Help set up the course, manage water stations, assist at the finish line, and handle other tasks for Bike to the Beach DC, a fundraiser for local autism programs held on Friday, July 30, beginning at 4:30 am in NW DC and wrapping up at 8 pm in Dewey Beach, DE. Sponsored by So What Else. Email Talia Ramey or call 240-778-2660 for questions.
YARD WORKERS: Help seniors served by Community Reach of Montgomery County by mowing their lawns, trimming bushes, picking up yard debris, and similar outdoor tasks. Individuals or small groups needed for one-time cleanups or maintenance throughout the growing season. Email Andrea Kempner-Wink for questions.
As more local agencies resume more normal operations, expect more in-person volunteer opportunities to become available. ( Montgomery Parks, which typically relies on many volunteers for a variety of outdoor projects, is not recruiting new volunteers at this time, but may begin doing so in the coming weeks.) Be sure to visit the Volunteer Center website frequently to find the latest outdoor volunteer activities or to search through all opportunities.
Earning SSL Hours During the Pandemic
This summer, Montgomery County Public School students can earn student service learning hours by engaging in designated in-person volunteer activities as well as select virtual/remote opportunities. MCPS is temporarily allowing remote opportunities to provide students with more ways to serve during COVID-19. These remote activities must meet MCPS's virtual service guidelines; students who complete approved virtual opportunities can earn SSL hours based on a specific formula outlined in the opportunity description on the Volunteer Center website.

You'll find all types SSL activities--virtual and in-person--on the Volunteer Center website, marked with the blue MCPS SSL/graduation cap banner. Current opportunities include

Students may also be able to earn SSL hours for service activities that are not already designated as MCPS SSL on the Volunteer Center website. To do so, complete MCPS Form 560-50 and submit it your school SSL coordinator (during the school year) or to SSL@mcpsmd.org (during the summer) to obtain preapproval before serving.
Food Assistance Remains Critical Need
Many of our neighbors continue to struggle with securing food during this health and economic emergency. Thus, food-related needs remain a key way for volunteers and donors to serve today. Here are a few of the many such opportunities to help found on the Volunteer Center website:

FOOD PACKAGERS: Wednesdays, 9-11 am or 11 am-2 pm, NW DC. Assemble boxes of groceries and assist with distribution at Catholic Charities' food distribution at the Spanish Catholic Center. Volunteers must be between the ages of 18 and 65. Sign up online or email Maggie O'Neill for questions.

MEAL DISTRIBUTORS: Weekday afternoons in Gaithersburg & Rockville. Distribute grab-and-go meals provided by local restaurants through Real Food for Kids/Chefs Feeding Families. Minimum age: 18. Sign up online or email Mary Porter for questions.

KITCHEN HELPERS: Weekdays, 9-11:30 am, Takoma Park. Prepare food for Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park/Silver Spring to deliver to homebound neighbors and then help clean up the kitchen. Minimum age: 16 (or younger if volunteering with a parent). Email Ruth Masterson or call 301-434-1922 for questions.

FOOD AND FINANCE DONORS: Organizations throughout the county are in need of donations of food, supplies, grocery store gift cards, and financial contributions to support their food security efforts. Some even have Amazon wishlists posted so you can shop for needed goods right from your couch.

Find more ways to volunteer for food-related needs by exploring opportunities posted on the Volunteer Center website. And for additional ideas on ways to help get food to those who need it during this pandemic, check with the grassroots neighborhood organizations featured on our volunteer response to COVID-19 page.
Represent Your Community on a County Board
People who live or work in Montgomery County can take an active role in matters affecting our local quality of life by serving on one of the more than 75 boards, committees, and commissions that advise the county government. Several groups are now accepting applicants, including the Commission for Women, the Community Action Board, the Agricultural Advisory Committee, and the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture. See all vacancies here.

Board, committee, and commission members are appointed by County Executive Marc Elrich and confirmed by the Montgomery County Council. Most positions require a three-year commitment and participation in meetings one or two evenings per month (committees are currently meeting virtually). Members generally do not receive financial compensation, but may be eligible for transportation and dependent-care reimbursement.

Questions? Send an email.
Volunteer Center Website Tip
"Fan" Your Favorites
Waiting for your favorite nonprofits to resume volunteer operations? Be one of the first to know when they post new opportunities on the Volunteer Center website by becoming a "Fan" of the organizations you are interested in serving.

Simply click the blue "Become a Fan" button on any organization page or at the bottom of the organization box on any volunteer opportunity page, and you'll automatically be notified by email whenever that agency adds a new volunteer need to the website.

If you ever decide to, you can "un-fan" an organization by clicking the green "Fanned" button.
Taking Care While Being a Good Neighbor
As you reach out to help others during the pandemic, please protect yourself and those you are serving by taking the following precautions developed by Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Stay home from all activities when you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
  • Keep away from others who are sick.
  • Limit close physical contact with others as much as possible, keeping at least 6 feet away and using a face covering when that physical distance can't be maintained.
  • Call, email, or text your neighbors who may need help.
  • If they are in need of immediate emergency care, call 911.
  • Limit your help to non-contact activities. For example:
  • Leave groceries on the doorstep. (Do not enter their house.)
  • Make sure to thoroughly wash your hands before touching anything you deliver to them.
  • To promote social interactions and combat loneliness, speak with neighbors on the phone or by video chat (versus going into their homes) on a regular basis.
  • Conduct research on their needs and provide them with resources or connect them directly with help such as feeding, transportation to medical appointments, animal services, etc.
  • Alert authorities if you think that a neighbor is in danger.
  • Do not act on your own.
  • Create an online network for your community.
  • Remember to protect yourself first! Do not put yourself or others at risk.
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The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up with these activities.

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