Non-Nurturing SF Volunteer Work
July 18, 2016 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving to San Francisco and would like to find some volunteer work which is worthwhile, but is not nurturing/caring based.

I'm leaving full-time employment to become a stay at home dad, this also involves an international move from Australia to San Francisco for my partner's work. I'm looking forward to becoming a stay at home dad, but I'm worried that I'll become too dad centric. I know my partner had similar concerns when they gave up their employment to look after our child, as their work was a big part of their identity and provided a strong sense of worth. I am leaving full time Navy where I am the Captain of a ship, I'm used to an environment where we have firefighting teams, we're dealing with wharf security, providing drought relief and conducting practical seamanship. So entering a purely nurturing role may challenge me.

Despite being a stay at home dad we'll have our child in childcare a couple of days a week to ensure that they have sufficient socialisation. So I may have a day a week (housework dependent!) and be able to be called out randomly on weekends etc for volunteer work. Given the new full-time nurturing role I don't feel as though sorting out charity clothes or visiting nursing homes would be in my or anyone else's best interests. If I was in Australia I would volunteer with the State Emergency Service or Rural Fire Brigade, but I can't quite put my finger on the SF equivalents for non-US citizens. I want to be in a team where we affect situational change, not just hold someone's hand.

Does this ring any bells or have you got any advice?
posted by gongnomore to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some things you might look into/terms you might Google:

* CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) - it looks like the San Francisco one is called NERT
* Search and Rescue (I'm not sure if it'd work with your parenting time commitments, though) - for example, BAMRU
* Volunteer Firefighting - SFFD Fire Reserve looks like it operates in San Francisco, though surrounding, smaller towns may have volunteers they call in for smaller fires and not just "large-scale emergencies"
* ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) - ham radio operators who help keep communications open during emergencies
* Something to do with water/aquatic safety, given your service in the Navy and the proximity of the Bay - the FAST Foundation came up on a quick Google search, but there may be others that are less kid-centric if you (understandably) want something more adult-focused

I don't know much about the specifics of any of these, including time commitment, openness to non-US citizens, etc., but that at least might give you a few directions for further research. Good luck!
posted by bananacabana at 5:19 PM on July 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

The Red Cross uses volunteers
posted by gt2 at 6:29 PM on July 18, 2016

What about Habitat for Humanity - you could build houses!
posted by Toddles at 8:05 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're willing to travel to San Leandro, you can volunteer at MedShare sorting donated healthcare supplies and surgical tools before they're packaged into shipping containers for delivery to hospitals in developing countries. If you have any kind of electronic engineering experience, they can also sometimes use more technical help in assessing donated laboratory equipment.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:21 PM on July 18, 2016

Other options:
Marine Mammal Center
Farallones Marine Sanctuary beach watch or oil spill volunteer might use your skills.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:20 PM on July 18, 2016

Not quite in line with your previous experience, but I volunteer regularly at Habitat for Humanity San Francisco, and there are definite opportunities to be in (and lead) teams making a difference by building homes. Volunteer opportunities Tuesday-Saturday every week as a regular. It can be a bit difficult to sign up for your first volunteer day due to popularity, but if you're having trouble, let me know an I can probably help.
posted by dttocs at 9:34 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The SF Bike Kitchen is entirely volunteer-run. In addition to working on bikes, maintaining the shop, and teaching bike repair you can get involved in leadership, operations, and decision-making. (I have been volunteering with similar orgs for years; if you're motivated you can go from "newbie" to "helping run the place" in a few months.)
posted by sibilatorix at 10:48 PM on July 18, 2016

Volunteer firefighting for sure. I live in a much smaller town than SF and most of the departments in the area are completely volunteer-run. Generally larger cities in the U.S. have paid workers, though, so not sure how it will work there. But I bet if you went to the local fire department and started chatting with the folks there, they would be able to give you some ideas.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:26 AM on July 19, 2016

What kind of drought relief work do you come from? There are opportunities like Friends of the Urban Forest (lots of tree planting), the Alemany Farm (educational produce farm, which is actually recruiting volunteers for its Community Advisory Committee) and so on if you'd like to take on some environmental, outdoors work.

Depending on where you'll live (are you going to be in the city propser, or in the Bay Area generally?) and when you'll arrive (or otherwise be available) there are probably more specific recommendations we could make. Welcome to the city!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:03 AM on July 19, 2016

I don't know how you identify, but my partner has volunteered a couple of times with Gay for Good - they do monthly group projects from environmental clean-up to building repair - and has found it a rewarding and social experience.
posted by psoas at 2:09 PM on July 19, 2016

I used to volunteer sometimes with One Brick. They have a variety of volunteer gigs that usually last a few hours.
posted by bendy at 8:57 PM on July 19, 2016

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