Compassionate volunteers eager to make a difference in women's lives
Our organization was founded by a volunteer, Jill Halverson, and our efforts have been defined by generations of extraordinary volunteers since 1978.
The more than 5,000 active volunteers in DWC’s community provide over 30,000 hours of support annually: by joining us, you’ll be making a difference in partnership with women on their journey out of homelessness.
We welcome volunteers who share a commitment to DWC’s core values of safety, respect, stewardship, social justice, and community, and invite you to join us in our mission to end homelessness for women in Los Angeles. Volunteers are integral to this work!
Due to the impact of COVID-19 virus on our participants, residents, and frontline staff, all on-site volunteers are required to adhere to DWC’s COVID-19 Policy. Our policy is available to read here.
Did you know?
DWC was run entirely by volunteers for the first 14 years of its existence.
Individual Volunteer Opportunities
All on-site individual volunteers are required to participate in a virtual volunteer training before signing up to volunteer. Many on-site individual volunteer opportunities also require that volunteers commit to a certain number of weekly shifts in order to sign up, though this varies depending on the opportunity. Please note that, at any given time, any particular volunteer opportunity may not have a need for new volunteers: you will find the most up-to-date information on volunteer needs during our volunteer training, and in our monthly volunteer newsletter.
DWC’s Kitchen served over 260,000 meals in 2020 alone: our incredible Kitchen team serves three nutritious meals seven days a week and offers an important space for women to connect and to share a meal with each other. Kitchen volunteers help with meal preparation (e.g. chopping and measuring); help keep the kitchen clean and organized (e.g. wiping counters, organizing the food pantry and cabinets); and serve our delicious meals to participants. Kitchen volunteering is a great fit for volunteers who like working in a team while also interacting with DWC participants.
The Day Center is the point of entry for women coming through DWC’s doors: it provides access to three meals a day; clean bathrooms and showers, changes of clothes, an address for individuals to receive mail, case management; and medical services. Day Center volunteers support our Day Center team by welcoming participants; helping distribute donations, mail, toiletry items, and meals; participating in and/or leading enrichment activities; and helping create a safe, welcoming space for the women receiving services in our community.
Our Permanent Supportive Housing Program provides 119 units of comfortable, safe, and affordable housing without time limits as residents work towards personal stability. Residence hosts provide a welcoming, supportive atmosphere in the lobby of DWC’s permanent residences, welcoming and checking in with the women, signing for packages, answering the phone and door, and chatting with residents during downtime. This is a great fit if you’re able to work independently and want to work directly with our residents.
As an integral part of DWC’s Workforce Development programming, the Learning Center offers a safe space for women seeking employment to search and apply for jobs and to participate in academic and vocational counseling sessions and job readiness workshops. Volunteers create a supportive, peaceful Learning Center environment by providing one-on-one assistance with computer questions, helping equip participants with the skills necessary to prepare them for school or work, and more. Learning Center volunteers should have some basic comfort using computers and a desire to interact with participants. While not a requirement, this is a particularly good fit for volunteers with previous HR or tutoring/education experience.
Volunteers support DWC’s social enterprise, MADE by DWC, at pop-up shops across Los Angeles, by transporting MADE products to and from events, selling products, and spreading the word about DWC with pop-up attendees. Pop-up volunteering is a great fit for folks who enjoy talking with new people and are open to one-off weekend volunteer opportunities. This volunteer opportunity also requires volunteers to be comfortable using technology to process product orders (with training provided) and lifting up to 25 pounds.
Donation-sorting volunteers help our team organize the in-kind donations DWC receives, from clothing and shoes to toiletries and household goods. Volunteers should be comfortable being on their feet for the majority of their volunteer shift, and lifting up to 25 pounds. This opportunity has limited interaction with DWC participants, but is a great fit for folks with an eye for creating organizational systems and handling large volumes of items.
On occasion, DWC’s Human Resources team seeks detail-oriented volunteers who can support with organizational projects like administrative tasks, filing, and preparing for audits. This is an ideal opportunity for volunteers who are comfortable handling confidential information and enjoy making magic behind-the-scenes.
DWC’s Housing Navigation team occasionally recruits new volunteers to support their landlord engagement efforts across Los Angeles County. This volunteer opportunity is entirely remote: volunteers assist in organizing and updating landlord engagement materials, and also make phone calls to past and potential future landlords to gauge their interest in helping house women receiving DWC services.
DWC regularly retains fluent Spanish-speaking volunteers who assist in making our services more accessible to our diverse community. Currently, our team only requests written Spanish translation support in both Spanish-to-English and English-to-Spanish.
DWC welcomes volunteer lawyers interested in providing volunteer legal support to participants, especially in the areas of housing, contracts, immigration, and disability. Volunteers are not asked to represent clients. The extent of a volunteer’s involvement will vary depending on interest and availability, but may include a consultation or a review of an individual’s paperwork. Requests may be remote or in-person, depending on the specific need.
Group Volunteer Opportunities
A home-cooked meal is one of the most basic needs that we meet in our Day Center. In our cooking club, you will prepare a meal for 150 women with 5-7 of your colleagues. You will provide a sponsorship of $500 for the meal, and DWC will provide a kitchen leader, fresh ingredients and a menu with step-by-step instructions. You will then get to serve the delicious meal you prepared!
- Breakfast 5:30am — 9:00am
- Lunch 8:30am — 12:30pm
- 6 days/week, no cooking club on Tuesday
- Good for groups of 5 – 7
To get started, please email GroupVolunteerEvents@DowntownWomensCenter.org with your desired group volunteering activity, your group size, and your desired date and time of service.
Snack Packs are bagged lunches that consist of a sandwich, a beverage, a piece of fruit, and a snack item. They’re distributed in the afternoon before women leave the Day Center to ensure that everyone will have an evening meal when we’re closed for the night.
Please review our Snack Pack guidelines and instructions here.
- Contactless delivery 7days/week, 1-1:30pm
- Good for groups any size
To get started, please email GroupVolunteerEvents@DowntownWomensCenter.org with your desired group volunteering activity, your group size, and your desired date for delivery.
Toiletry Kits are essential to the women we serve. Women are able to access daily showers in our Day Center and these kits help us provide them with other important items for self-care and hygiene, such as shampoo and body wash.
Please review our Toiletry Kit guidelines and instructions here.
Good for groups of any size. When you are ready, please schedule your contact delivery date and time here.
Clean Home Kits provide our residents with essential cleaning supplies as they move from homelessness into housing. Your thoughtful contribution will help these women create a clean, comfortable space that they can call home.
Clean Home Kits can be packaged in durable containers such as plastic caddies, plastic bins, or tote bags. Please review our Clean Home Kit guidelines and instructions here.
Good for groups of any size. When you are ready, please schedule your contact delivery date and time here.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are signing up to volunteer as an individual, your first step after signing up will be to sign up for an upcoming virtual volunteer training in the volunteer portal. After attending a volunteer training, you will be able to sign up for on-site volunteer opportunities in our kitchen, day center, and more.
If you are signing up to volunteer as a group, you do not need to attend a virtual volunteer training. In your volunteer signup form, please indicate the group volunteer opportunities you would like to learn more about, and our team will follow up with more information.
Because DWC serves an adult client population, we do not offer on-site volunteer opportunities appropriate for those under 18 years old. This includes minors accompanied by adults. However, those under 18 years old are welcome to volunteer with DWC off-site would be welcome to volunteer offsite by making Snack Packs, Toiletry Kits, Clean Home Kits, or by holding a donation drive.
On weekdays, we are unable to offer on-site parking to volunteers. However, there is ample street parking and $10 cash- and app-based pay lots at the corner of Boyd and San Pedro Street, two blocks away. On weekends, volunteers are welcome to park in DWC’s on-site parking lot, as space allows.
DWC continues to take extra precautions due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in Los Angeles. Due to the impact of COVID-19 virus on our participants, residents, and frontline staff, all on-site volunteers are required to adhere to DWC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Policy, which requires volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition to our vaccine requirement, we require all on-site staff and volunteers to wear a KN95 or both a cloth and surgical mask; continue to hold many services outside in our parking lot and to limit our indoor capacity to allow for social distancing; and require all in person staff and volunteers to conduct a symptom and temperature check upon arriving on-site.
If you are an individual volunteer interested in offering regular activities or workshops, we encourage you to first attend one of our virtual volunteer trainings, to gain an understanding of our service approach and expectations for volunteers. Once you’ve done this, please get in touch at Volunteer@downtownwomenscenter.org, and we’ll discuss next steps on an individual basis.
If you are a volunteer group looking to offer a one-off workshop or activity, please share an overview of your offer at Volunteer@downtownwomenscenter.org, and we’ll be happy to discuss further.
Currently, we are only able to accommodate on-site groups of 5-7 people.