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Urban Volunteering: Boston

by Jacqui Bryant Mar 23, 2010
Like most big cities, Boston grapples with the challenges of homelessness, cultural preservation, and education.

In our series about urban volunteering opportunities, our writers highlight organizations in big cities that need your help.

Rosie’s Place

Rosie’s Place is a resource center and shelter for impoverished and homeless women. A dining room, pantry, computer room, craft co-op, legal help, ESOL education, clothing and showers are among the resources they have and services they offer. Rosie’s Place is in the South End and accessible by the Silver Line and the Green Line (E, Symphony).

Volunteers need to submit an individual interest form, provided at their website. A member of the volunteer services staff will contact you. Group volunteers should contact Volunteer Services at 617-442-9322. The minimum time commitment is two times a month on the same shift for three months.

Both females and males are encouraged to volunteer. The minimum age is 12 in the dining room and 18 for all other programs. Volunteers between the ages 12 and 15 need to be accompanied by an adult. For more information, please visit Rosie’s website.

Asian Community Development Corporation

The Asian Community Development Corporation is dedicated to improving all aspects of the Asian community’s life in the Greater Boston area, concentrating primarily on the revitalization of Chinatown.

The headquarters, located on Oak Street in Chinatown, is accessible on the T’s Orange Line (Chinatown) or Green Line (Boylston). ACDC is involved in many projects- from real estate acquisition to the A-VOYCE youth development program.

For more information on the volunteer opportunities or for each program’s specific details, visit ACDC’s website.

MAB Community Services

MAB Community Services is dedicated to helping people with disabilities lead dignified lives. Their Volunteers for Vision program matches volunteers with blind adults to help with errands, paying bills, and reading printed material.

The minimum age to volunteer is 18 and the organization requires a six-month commitment. MAB offices are located in Watertown and Worcester, but a volunteer’s placement depends on where the blind individual lives. MAB tries to match you with someone close to where you live.

Interested individuals should visit MAB Community Services’ volunteer website for more information and to apply.

Spare Change News

Spare Change News is part of the Homeless Empowerment Project that produces street papers the homeless can buy and then re-sell for a profit. Main volunteer jobs at Spare Change are writing related— like on-call reporters and editorial assistants. Volunteer on-call reporters need some kind of writing background. Editorial assistants work in the office and need editorial experience.

Spare Change offices are in Harvard Square, located on the T’s Red Line (Harvard Square), which is not in Boston, but the on-call reporters work throughout Boston, covering subjects they feel need to be reported on. Most of the articles address social activism and advocacy.

For more information visit Spare Change News’ website.

New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium educates the general public and encourages people to take action with them on a number of issues important to marine life and the ocean through entertainment like IMAX and interactive exhibits. The aquarium is located on the waterfront within walking distance of the North End and is on the T’s Blue Line (Aquarium stop).

Volunteer openings include animal husbandry, helping with administration, assisting on conservation research projects and conducting marine wildlife rescue. The minimum age is 16 to work with education department and 18 to work with animals; most jobs require one full day (8 AM to 6 PM) of service for a duration for six months.

Other opportunities are also available; interested individuals should email to be added to a volunteer project mailing list. For more information or to apply, visit New England Aquarium’s Volunteer page.

826 Boston

826 Boston is a place where youth ages six through 18 are tutored and can learn to express themselves creatively through writing. 826 Boston is the seventh chapter spawned from Dave Eggers’ non-profit writing and tutoring center 826 Valencia in San Francisco, and opened its doors in 2007.

Besides offering tutoring opportunities, 826 Boston also has opportunities to lead writing workshops. 
There is no minimum time commitment but minimum age to volunteer is 18. 826 Boston is located in Roxbury off the T’s Orange Line (Stony Brook and Jackson Square).

All volunteers must attend a mandatory orientation meeting and those wanting to tutor students need to stay for a training that follows the orientation. To apply visit 826 Boston’s website for information on the next orientation and to download the application.

Community Connection:

If you’re interested in being the change you wish to see in the world but can’t currently travel the world to do it, be sure to check out How to Dress Green, 10 Shocking Facts about Slavery in 2008, and Why We Should Bring The Teach English Phenomenon Home.

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