good neighbor network

Do you want to help resolve homelessness in Santa Cruz County?

Join the Good Neighbor Network today! With brand-new volunteer opportunities, network members are making a direct impact in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in Santa Cruz County, while helping to promote equity, dignity, and compassion for all of our neighbors.


Volunteer. Help promote real solutions.

The Good Neighbor Network is a diverse group of community members, some with homes and some experiencing homelessness, together, engaging in volunteer projects around a shared mission: to reduce homelessness and promote housing justice in Santa Cruz County through education, advocacy, and compassion in action.

We can achieve big change together.

Santa Cruz County is full of neighbors with big hearts and sharp minds, many with a roof and a warm bed to sleep in at night, but way too many living without a safe and stable place to call home. Through service projects, Good Neighbor Network volunteers are forging integral connections with their housed and unhoused neighbors, grounded in a shared mission to reduce homelessness and promote housing justice throughout Santa Cruz County. We CAN achieve big change together.

current volunteer opportunities

+Book Buddies

The Rebele Family Shelter

 

Book Buddies volunteer in the Rebele Family Shelter (RFS) to inspire a love of reading in some of our youngest shelter residents. RFS provides emergency shelter for up to 28 households with children (approximately 90 individuals) on any given night. Families reside in the shelter for an average of six months while working toward obtaining permanent housing. 

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

Book buddies volunteer on the first and third Monday of each month from 3:30-4:30 pm. Young readers at RFS range in age from elementary school through middle school. 

There are at least three volunteers working together during each Book Buddies group and parents are never out of sight, so it’s a supportive environment for RFS families as well as volunteers. Book Buddies meet in the RFS Dining Room and on the RFS playground.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Patient and kind
  • Loves to read
  • Communicates comfortably with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Childcare experience is a plus, though not essential
  • Maintains respect for privacy and confidentiality at all times
  • Is sensitive to the impact of trauma on children and families; is interested to learn more about trauma-informed care
  • Is motivated to maintain healthy boundaries; is interested to learn more about how to set healthy boundaries in a social-service setting

 

+Campus Companion

The Housing Matters Campus

 

Housing Matters welcomes about 150 shelter guests on any given night at our Coral Street campus. We operate three unique shelter programs: the Recuperative Care Center, Rebele Family Shelter, and The Loft. We also welcome about 80 people onto our campus daily to access Day Services like our mailroom, showers, and bathrooms.

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

Campus Companions greet guests in public spaces on the Housing Matters campus and offer friendly conversation to enhance our guests’ sense of purpose and belonging.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Friendly and patient
  • Loves to listen
  • Understands how to maintain healthy boundaries in a social services setting; mental health or social services experience a plus
  • Communicates comfortably with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • A desire to learn about the array of resources and supportive services available  throughout Santa Cruz County for people experiencing homelessness
+Day Services Support

The Bird’s Nest at Day Services

 

Each year, more than 2,500 of our neighbors experiencing homelessness access Day Services at Housing Matters, including hot showers and bathrooms, open seven days a week. Housing Matters receives donations of personal hygiene supplies from generous community members, such as shampoo, body wash, toothbrush with toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products, to meet the needs of our Day Services guests. The Bird’s Nest is a storage space on campus where we store essential supplies.

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

The Bird’s Nest Monitor helps Day Services staff to maintain a tidy storage space and to track when essential supplies are running low. The Bird’s Nest Monitor also works with staff to publicize requests for donations.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Enjoys tidying and organizing 
  • Must be able to lift 25lbs and climb stairs
  • Must be able to work independently with minimal supervision
  • Must pass a criminal background check
+Front Desk Assistant

The Front Desk

 

Our Front Desk is the first stop for visitors to our administrative offices and is located on the ground floor of the Rebele Family Shelter. Our Front Desk is also a hub of information for community members calling Housing Matters in search of shelter options and other essential services. It’s open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. 

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

Front Desk volunteers greet visitors with a kind smile and answer calls from community members. Callers are often seeking information about shelter program eligibility and other essential services offered by Housing Matters and partner organizations. This position is supervised by our Front Office Coordinator.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Friendly and patient in person and on the phone; customer-service experience a plus
  • Respect for privacy and maintains confidentiality at all times
  • A desire to learn about an array of shelter and supportive-services providers throughout Santa Cruz County 
  • Maintains patience and kindness while receiving calls from community members who may be stressed as they are navigating the crisis of homelessness
  • Comfortable with downtime when the phones are quiet; feel free to bring a book
+Gratitude Group

The Gratitude Group

 

Each year, about 1000 compassionate community members give financial support to help sustain Housing Matters programs and services. When our donors receive a personal thank you call, they are significantly more likely to give a second gift and to make it larger than the first. With help from volunteers, our Development Team and Board of Directors work together to complete thank-you calls throughout the year to make sure donors understand the significance of their impact.

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

Gratitude Group volunteers gather via Zoom with Development staff for thank-you call parties. Development staff get this party started by setting motivation and discussing strategy with volunteers. Next, volunteers turn off their cameras and hit the phones for about 40 minutes. Finally, the whole group returns to the Zoom meeting to debrief and celebrate the meaningful connections they have made with Housing Matters donors over the phone.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Friendly and patient; customer service experience a plus
  • Communicates comfortably with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Must have a working phone
  • Understands the importance of confidentiality
+Kitchen Assistant

The Housing Matters Kitchen

 

Housing Matters welcomes about 200 shelter-program participants on any given night at our Coral Street campus. We operate three unique shelter programs: the Recuperative Care Center, Rebele Family Shelter, and The Loft. Our guests enjoy meals in the Dining Hall or on The Patio, an open-air dining space. Our full-scale kitchen offers a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day of the week, to all of our shelter guests.

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

The Kitchen Server greets shelter guests at dinnertime and serves them their meals in a cafeteria-style line. After dinner is served, volunteers help kitchen staff to clean the kitchen and wash the dishes.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Maintains patience and kindness while serving guests who may be stressed as they are navigating the crisis of homelessness
  • Customer services experience a plus
  • Maintains standard hygiene and safety protocols while working with food; food-service experience a plus
  • Communicates comfortably with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Understands how to maintain healthy boundaries in a social services setting
  • Must pass criminal background check

 

+Mail Room Assistant

The Housing Matters Mailroom

 

Without a physical address, receiving important mail can be challenging, at best. More than 1,300 individuals experiencing homelessness use the Housing Matters Mailroom to receive important mail, such as letters confirming Social Security, housing vouchers, and other government benefits, which are often an important part of someone’s pathway back into permanent housing. We provide mail accounts as well as stationary, envelopes, and pens to those experiencing homelessness at no cost. We are open to the public from 10:00am to 2:00pm, Monday through Friday; 6:00am to 8am on Tuesdays; and 4:00pm to 6:00 pm on Thursdays. 

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

Mailroom volunteers help sort the mail and manage our community message board and program information board. Mailroom volunteers work under the direction of the Mail Services Coordinator. 

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Friendly and patient
  • Enjoys detail-oriented work
  • Respect for privacy and maintains confidentiality at all times

 

+Special Events Volunteer

Special Events

 

Housing Matters invites our community at large to come together for special events with opportunities to help resolve homelessness in Santa Cruz County. Housing Matters special events provide education around the issue of homelessness and opportunities for community engagement and fundraising. 

 

The Volunteer Experience

 

Volunteers help make special events runs smoothly through their event-day roles and responsibilities. Examples of event-day roles include:

  • Event set-up
  • Guest check-in
  • Beverage tender
  • Dessert tender

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Friendly and patient
  • Communicates comfortably with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • Flexible and willing to lend a helping hand when needed
  • Specific qualifications vary depending on day-of assignment

 

+[Insert Your Skills Here]

Special Skills

 

We love to match volunteers with special projects based on their skillsets. Whether you are experienced with data entry, event planning, legalese, or anything in between, we want you! You can help end homelessness by doing what you do best.

 

Volunteer Qualifications

 

  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision
  • Specific qualifications vary depending on special projects

still have questions?