Alternative Breaks

Make a difference in the community during your getaway to the City by the Bay!

San Francisco is home to thousands of dedicated nonprofits doing important work for the community. The following organizations welcome help from short-term volunteers, and are recommended for alternative spring, summer, or winter break activities.

Homelessness and Hunger

Glide Memorial Church
330 Ellis St.
Provides daily meal service for the disadvantaged.
Contact: Shirley Cherry, 1 (415) 674-6080 or

The San Francisco Food Bank
900 Pennsylvania Ave.
Needs volunteers to sort, package, and distribute food.
Contact: Sam Marcum, 1 (415) 282-1907 ext. 244 or

The Welcome Ministry
1751 Sacramento St.
Provides individual care and counseling to the homeless.
Contact: Megan Rohrer, 1 (415) 776-5552 ext. 310 or

Hamilton Family Center
1631 Hayes St.
Provides food and shelter, as well as services that allow clients to return to self-sufficiency.
Contact: Audrey Muntz, 1 (415) 292-9930 ext. 305 or

St. Gregory's Episcopal Church
500 De Haro St.
On Friday afternoons they serve nearly three tons of food to about 300 local families and individuals. There is also a Food Pantry one Sunday each month.
Contact: Sara Miles, 1 (415) 255-8100 or

Martin de Porres Hospitality House
225 Potrero Ave.
Volunteers needed to serve breakfast (Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 6:00 - 8:15 a.m.) and lunch (Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.).
Contact: Charlie or Jim, 1 (415) 552-0240 or

San Francisco Rescue Mission
230 Jones St.
Serves dozens of homeless with free breakfast each morning.
Contact: Michelle, 1 (415) 292-1770 or

The Faithful Fools
234 Hyde St.
Aims to be present with and address the existence of poverty in the midst of material wealth, by meeting people where they are through arts, education, advocacy, and accompaniment.
Contact: Reverend Kay Jorgensen, 1 (415) 474-0508 or

A nonprofit ministry that provides support to homeless youth in the Polk Street neighborhood.
Contact: Father River Sims, 1 (415) 922-7553 or

St. Anthony Foundation
121 Golden Gate Ave.
Aims to feed, heal, shelter, clothe, and lift the spirits of those in need.
Contact: Marie O'Connor, 1 (415) 592-2726 or

Project Homeless Connect
Connects homeless individuals with services ranging from food and medical care to housing and skills development.
Contact: 1 (415) 255-3908 or

Larkin Street Youth Services
1138 Sutter St.
Helps youth move beyond street life.
Contact: Dana Blecher, 1 (415) 673-0911 ext. 221 or

Raphael House
1065 Sutter St.
Helps homeless and at-risk families achieve stable housing and financial independence.
Contact: Carol Field, 1 (415) 345-7265 or

Home Away From Homelessness
Fort Mason, Building 9
Provides a physical, emotional, and spiritual refuge from the demands of the street.
Contact : 1 (415) 561-4621 or

Children of Shelters
Provides children living in homeless shelters with educational and cultural experiences to help them realize their potential.
Contact: 1 (415) 563-6082 or

AIDS Services

Stop AIDS Project
2128 15th St.
Aims to change behavior, create personal commitment to safer sex, build community support for each individual, and live the belief that HIV transmission can be prevented.
Contact: Fred Lopez, 1 (415) 575-0748 or

San Francisco Aids Foundation
995 Market St.
From staffing the California AIDS Hotline to supporting fundraising efforts, volunteers are a critical component of day-to-day work.
Contact: Sergio Cano, 1 (415) 487-8014 or

Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center
730 Polk St.
Aims to educate, support, empower, and advocate for Asian and Pacific Islander communities, particularly those living with, or at risk for, HIV/AIDS.
Contact: Ruben Garcia, 1 (415) 292-3420 ext. 324 or

National AIDS Memorial Grove
Golden Gate Park
Holds regular monthly workdays.
Contact: Wendi Deetz, 1 (415) 765-0498 or

Tenderloin Health
Works to empower the community to lessen the incidence of HIV infection, disease progression, and homelessness among the residents of the Tenderloin.
Contact: Emilie Bromet-Bauer, 1 (415) 437-2900 or

Project Open Hand
730 Polk St.
Provides "Meals With Love" to people who are homebound and critically ill.
Contact: Artrice at 1 (415) 447-2404 or

AIDS Housing Alliance
427 South Van Ness Ave.
Provides resources for new housing and promotes public policy to increase opportunities for people with HIV/AIDS.
Contact: Brian Basinger, 1 (415) 552-3242 or

Dolores Street Community Services
938 Valencia St.
A residential care facility for adults living with HIV/AIDS.
Contact: Wendy Phillips, 1 (415) 558-0503 ext. 306 or

AIDS Legal Referral Panel
1663 Mission St.
Protects and advances the legal rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Contact: Georgina Wakefield, 1 (415) 701-1200 ext. 303 or

AIDS Emergency Fund
965 Mission St. #630
Provides emergency financial assistance for people battling HIV/AIDS.
Contact: Joanie Juster, 1 (415) 558-6999 or

Healing Waters
167 Fell St.
Aims to empower, inspire, and enrich the lives of people challenging AIDS through wilderness adventures.
Contact: Rob, 1 (415) 552-1190 or

Project Inform
205 13th St. #2001
Make a difference in the fight against AIDS.
Contact: 1 (415) 558-8669 ext. 218 or

Animal Services

Pets are Wonderful Support (PAWS)
645 Harrison St. #100
The time and effort volunteers invest helps hundreds of clients stay with their beloved animal companions.
Contact: Daniel Marlay, 1 (415) 979-9550 or

San Francisco Rescued Orphan Mammal Program
879 47th Ave.
Programs include public education, rehabilitating injured/orphaned mammals for release back to the wild, habitat restoration, and biodiversity preservation.
Contact: Jamie, 1 (415) 350-9453 or

The Environment

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Conducts restoration projects within the National Parks in San Francisco.
Contact: Denise Shea, 1 (415) 561-3013 or

San Francisco Recreation & Parks National Areas Programs
Renews parks and recreation centers through community service through planting and habitat restoration.
Contact: Kristin Bowman, 1 (415) 831-6325 or

Friends of the Urban Forest
Learn hands-on skills such as tree identification and proper planting and pruning techniques, while forming connections with community members and their trees.
Contact: Reed Milnes, 1 (415) 561-6890 or


Zen Hospice Project
273 Page St.
Operates on a model that transcends "charity work," by encouraging a mutually beneficial relationship between volunteers and people who are dying.
Contact: Mark Matheson, 1 (415) 863-2910 or

Hospice by the Bay
1902 Van Ness Ave.
Offers hospice care to patients facing life-threatening illnesses with a prognosis of six months or less.
Contact: Ann Bednarczyk, 1 (415) 626-5900 or

730 Polk St.
Provides support to people with life-threatening illnesses.
Contact: Anne Radl, 1 (415) 674-4712 or


Meals on Wheels
1375 Fairfax Ave.
Works to prevent the inappropriate or premature institutionalization of the city's homebound elderly.
Contact: 1 (415) 920-1111 or

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly
909 Hyde St. #628
Provides outreach, advocacy, and companionship to isolated elders by visiting, socializing, and helping with household tasks.
Contact: Gina Withers, 1 (415) 771-7957 ext. 107 or

Community Development

LYRIC - Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center
A community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
Contact: Valentin Aguirre, 1 (415) 703-6150 ext. 27 or

Mission Neighborhood Health Center
240 Shotwell St.
Aims to promote and preserve community-based health care.
Contact: Rafael Ildefonzo, 1 (415) 552-1013 ext. 202 or

Arab Cultural and Community Center
2 Plaza St.
Aims to promote mutual understanding between the Arab community and the community at large, working against prejudice and anti-Arab sentiments.
Contact: Inas Elmashni, 1 (415) 664-2200 or

Done in a Day Projects
Meets the first Saturday of every month for reflection and prayer, followed by breakfast and carpool to the project site, equipped with whatever is needed (rakes, shovels, brooms, rubber gloves) for a job that can be "done in a day."
Contact: Mary Wood, 1 (415) 749-6327 or