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Get Up, Help Out: Volunteer Opportunities For Those Who Want to Give Back

From arts organizations to social service groups, everyone needs a hand


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Peace Out Camp

Peace Out Camp is a short camp focused on teaching high school and college students non-violent/non-conflict ways of resolving disputes, as well as lessons in positive peer pressure and anti-bullying work.

Camp organizers are looking for a few good volunteers with specific skill sets to work at the camp, June 13-16 in Boise. Those skill sets include individuals to teach classes in yoga, akido and capoeira, as well as someone to lead a workshop on peer/bystander influence. If you're more the artsy type, the camp also needs help with a tie-dying/journaling project.

Contact: Becky McGavin,


Phone: 208-866-5944

Public Library

For the people, by the people could well be the motto of the public library system. All those books, videos, computers and public programs require some serious manpower, and budgets require some big-time volunteer hours. Public libraries across the valley need people to help prepare and shelve books, prepare donations for annual book sales, organize public events and help with summer reading programs.

The Boise Public Library has even more need for volunteers thanks to the addition of branch libraries across the city. The library bases its volunteer effort around its website, which posts various volunteer opportunities as they become available. Would-be volunteers are asked to fill out an online form and be ready to undergo a background check (this is a city position, after all).

Volunteers are also needed with Friends of the Boise Library, which puts on used book sale fundraisers for the library and runs the book store.

Website: Boise,; Garden City,

Phone: Boise, 208-384-4076; Garden City, 208-472-2941; Friends of the Boise Library, 208-384-4198

Ridge to Rivers

Volunteer opportunities with Ridge to Rivers--which manages the expansive trail system in the Boise Foothills--are popular to say the least. In fact, there's a waiting list for those who want to help maintain and expand one of Boise's most popular attractions. Opportunities to work on the trails are project dependent but usually involve trail construction. Watch the website for new projects.

Contact: David Gordon,


Phone: 208-493-2531

Stage Coach Theatre

The actors may get all the glory, but it takes an army to mount any successful theatrical production. Stage Coach Theater--one of Boise's longest-running community theater companies--is looking for some front of the house help. Volunteers are always needed to help with the customer-service side of the arts by selling concessions, cleaning, stocking supplies, ushering, taking tickets and other assorted duties. Ages 12 and older are welcome (as long as minors are accompanied by an adult).

Contact: Rich Nesbit,


Phone: 208-249-2355

United Way of Idaho

OK, so you want to volunteer somewhere, doing something, but you're really not sure where or what. It's not an uncommon quandary for the crew at United Way of Idaho. The organization works with a variety of organizations across the Treasure Valley to match volunteers with groups. It also hosts numerous groups of its own, offering ways for people to get involved in the community with various levels of commitment.

United Way has partner organizations involved in education, youth, health and finances, and it serves as a clearinghouse for volunteer work. It works with individuals, as well as sets up larger projects for groups, companies and even schools. Check online to fill out a user profile and get started.

United Way also facilitates several service groups. The Junior Service Club is for junior high school students and offers a hands-on, year-long project that is driven by the students. High school students can join One Stone, a similar group that has numerous projects.

Working professionals with limited time can join DIRT, a group that meets to do one-hour projects over the noon hour. Projects nearly always are physical, giving those usually tied to a desk a way to blow off some energy.

Adults who want to get more involved can join LEAP, which is more focused on specific issues and works to engage more in the community.

United Way is also starting a new community garden on the Boise Bench next to its headquarters. Details are still being worked out, but volunteers will be needed to work in the garden.

Contact: Neva Geisler,


Phone: 208-336-1070, Ext. 112

Veterans AffairsMedical Center

The Boise VA works with hundreds of volunteers each year in an effort to provide the best care possible to our military veterans.

Volunteers are particularly needed to drive a van used to transport patients from Canyon County to the hospital. Help is also needed in the Caldwell clinic stocking shelves and teaching vets a new computer program to aid in their health care.

Volunteers are also needed in the hospice program, as well as to do light clerical duties, serve as couriers and to visit patients in the hospital. Anyone who wants to volunteer should call the volunteer coordinator to pick up an orientation packet. Volunteers must undergo a background check.

Contact: Sharon Clark,


Phone: 208-422-1176

Women's and Children's Alliance

The Women's and Children's Alliance has been on the front line of fighting domestic abuse for more than 20 years, helping women, men, children and families who have faced domestic violence or sexual assault. The nonprofit organization is always in need of volunteers to do an array of jobs, from clerical work in the office to working in the crisis shelter, manning the hot lines and staffing special events. WCA is also looking for people to join the Ambassador Program, which deals with community outreach.

Anyone interested in volunteering can schedule a tour of the facility by visiting WCA's website. After a tour, would-be volunteers can meet with staff to find a job that best suits them.

Contact: Tami Fisher,


Phone: 208-343-3688, Ext. 41

Zoo Boise

It's a jungle out there--at least if you want to volunteer at Zoo Boise. The chance to work around the ever-growing collection of animals is a big draw and getting a volunteer slot can be quite competitive. In fact, the zoo accepts the majority of its applications only twice a year.

Still, there are some opportunities to pitch in throughout the year, especially during the busy summer months.

Volunteers are needed to work at the various education stations, on the new Zoo Farm, at the giraffe feeding station and the Wallaby Walkout exhibit. Help is particularly needed with the zoo's special events, including the upcoming Zoo Daze on Sunday, May 15. A select group also works with zookeepers to help care for the animals, including some of the less glamorous jobs like cleaning.

Volunteer orientations are held three times a year, with the next set for Friday, May 6. The next won't be held until the fall. Check the website for an application, or call or email for more information.

Contact: Tracy Bryan,


Phone: 208-384-4125, Ext. 206