28 Rochester-Area Volunteer Experiences

I cannot think of a more fulfilling day trip than volunteering with one of these charitable organizations in the Rochester area. See how you can offer your time and talent to make a difference in our community.

“What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”


Please note that the descriptions are from each service’s website or messages sent to me as of 3/29/24.

Barakah Muslim Charity

Being a volunteer has many benefits both for the Community and for the individual volunteer. Volunteers stay connected to their community, build their resumes with real-life experience, expand their social networks, and give back to their community in a meaningful way. To volunteer, please come in during business hours and talk to our volunteer coordinator.

Cameron Community Ministries

There are many one-time and regularly scheduled opportunities to lend a hand at Cameron!

KITCHEN: Help prepare and serve a meal to local members of the community during our hot lunch program.  

CLOTHING HOUSE: Help sort and organize donations and assist guests in selecting clothing and housewares.

YOUTH & TEENS: Spend time with the children in our academic programs. Help with homework, play games, act as a positive role model.

THE GARDEN: Volunteers can help with planting, weeding, watering, and opening/closing the Peace Garden. 

FACILITIES: Help with building maintenance and groundskeeping.


Looking for a meaningful volunteering opportunity in Rochester, NY? We are confident that Compeer Rochester volunteers receive as much as they give. In as little as four hours a month, you can make a tremendous impact on someone in our community who lives with mental illness — and enhance your own life in the meantime. After all, the many benefits of friendship apply to both people in the pair!  

Our volunteers are carefully matched according to mutual preferences and receive comprehensive, customized training and personalized, constant support from Compeer Rochester staff. We also provide ample opportunity to bond with the Compeer Rochester community through events and activities throughout the year, such as our annual cookout.

Dimitri House

Office Volunteer: Volunteers assist staff with various office tasks, answering phones, filing, scheduling appointments, laundry, and preparing mailings.

Drop-in Program Volunteer Role: Volunteers serve food in our dining room, wash dishes, and keep the room well-stocked and clean. They are also encouraged to sit and chat with our guests and engage in activities such as card games or chess. 

Food Pantry Volunteer Role: Volunteers answer the door, welcome clients, check identification, and verify addresses. From November to April, volunteers also help prepare food bags. From May to October, volunteers support our “Client Choice” Program, where clients have the opportunity to create their own custom food bags by choosing foods they like from our pantry. 

Life Skills Mentor: A life skills Mentor provides support and rehabilitative duties for people who have recently moved into permanent supportive housing after experiencing chronic homelessness. You are responsible for helping your tenants find solutions for performing daily tasks and functions that may be currently difficult for them, including but not limited to grocery shopping, cooking, budgeting, household maintenance, and advocacy. The hours and days of the week are variable, and they may be short-term or long-term, pending the progress of the tenant.


Donating your time at EquiCenter is much more than a regular volunteer opportunity. You will be joining a community dedicated to improving the lives of others. Each day, you will be rewarded by the smiles and accomplishments of our riders and participants!

Whatever your interest and talent, whether you’d like to work with our horses, take a hands-on role in our life-changing programs, help on the farm, or work behind the scenes at our events, we invite you to learn more about EquiCenter and ways to get involved.

Family and Community Services

Thank you for considering Family and Community Services for your volunteer experience. Our work is important, and we are happy to have you join us. Because of individuals like you, we are better able to serve our clients. Annually, Family and Community Services touches the lives of more than 28,000 people in the Rochester area and in the Finger Lakes region. Your dedication to service will help us continue to make a difference in the lives of people who need us the most.


Volunteers are critical to our mission of ending hunger and building healthier communities. From sorting donated food in our distribution center to assisting Curbside Market customers to help us maintain the Foodlink Community Farm, we offer an array of volunteer opportunities that are perfect for individuals, families, groups, and more. Explore how you can get involved and begin your volunteer journey with Foodlink today.

Geva Theater

The Rochester community supports Geva Theatre in many ways, be it ticket sales, individual giving, or partnerships with local businesses. We are also proud to enjoy the efforts of over 500 volunteers, who donate their time and energy to each performance throughout our season. These volunteers range in age, ability, availability, and background, which makes for a wonderful mix of talent and enthusiasm for every assignment they undertake.

Gilda’s Club

Our volunteers create the enthusiastic energy here at Cancer Support Community (CSC) at Gilda’s Club. There is a wide range of opportunities where you can share your time and skills to support people affected by cancer. Volunteer opportunities are always changing. For detailed descriptions, download our Volunteer Opportunity Brochure on our website.

Habitat for Humanity

If you are interested in swinging a hammer, pounding nails, and building houses, then volunteering on a build might be just the thing for you. Our Construction Supervisors are trained professionals who will walk you through your assigned tasks while volunteering. Skilled trade volunteers are greatly appreciated. Reach out to the volunteer coordinator for current and future opportunities.

Heritage Christian Services

Give the gift of time. We offer flexible opportunities for individuals and groups. You can volunteer one time at an event or support an ongoing program. Free training is always provided. If you’re able to give the gift of time, call our office and ask for our volunteer coordinator. Heritage Christian has a volunteer opportunity for everyone. We offer one-time opportunities, and for someone who can commit regularly for a single season or all year long, we offer ongoing opportunities and welcome student interns, gardeners, and extra hands at our thrift store.

House of Mercy

House of Mercy runs around the clock thanks to the help of our tireless volunteers who never give up. Submit an application, and the Volunteer Coordinator will contact you to set up a time for orientation. After orientation, you may sign up for any of the following positions to volunteer. You may sign up online or in person.


AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer to make a meaningful impact by utilizing their skills and experiences. Volunteers aged 55 and older can contribute by giving caregivers respite, helping prevent falls among older adults, becoming certified Ombudsmen, assisting with financial tasks, providing transportation, offering Medicare guidance, promoting healthy living, making friendly phone calls, and serving as Tech Trainers with “Senior Planet.” Additionally, volunteers can be placed in various nonprofit organizations based on their skills, interests, and the organization’s needs.

Lollypop Farm

You can help pets in need as a volunteer at Lollypop Farm! As a volunteer, you become part of a team committed to providing loving, quality care to pets in need while also making the community a better place for our pets and their people. Together, we can make a big difference for the animals. From pet enrichment to administrative support, there are so many ways to volunteer at Lollypop Farm.

Meals on Wheels

By volunteering a few hours of your time, you can make a difference in the lives of those who need you in the community. Here’s how:

  • Meals on Wheels Delivery—Volunteer to deliver hot, nutritious meals to the homebound, elderly, or ill. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday between 10:30 am and 1:30 pm, depending on the area you deliver. Volunteers bring the meal to the recipient’s door with a friendly hello and a check on the participant’s well-being. Volunteers are needed on a regular basis and as substitutes.
  • Adopt-A-Route—Meals on Wheels has an Adopt-A-Route program, which is especially ideal for a group that would like to share a weekly lunchtime commitment by adopting a route. Many local businesses, community agencies, and church groups are involved. With a team of 8 or more members, each individual is scheduled to deliver about once a month, depending on the size of the group.
  • Seasonal Substitute—You can volunteer to fill in for regular volunteers who are away during winter, summer, or for an extended period of time.
  • Clerical Assistants—Volunteers work within UR Medicine Home Care to assist departments with a variety of clerical duties such as mailings, data entry, customer service, or special projects.
  • Kitchen—Duties may include meal preparation, packaging, and cleaning. Shifts are Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Memorial Art Gallery

Are you looking for an opportunity to share your time and skills, meet new friends, and make a vital contribution to the Memorial Art Gallery? Join the more than 1,000 people each year who donate their time and energy to help further the mission of the Memorial Art Gallery. MAG has many volunteer opportunities available, both behind the scenes and in contact with the public. All volunteers receive on-site training and an invitation to an annual volunteer recognition reception. Volunteers receive discounts at THE STORE @ MAG and free or reduced admission to museum events.

Mount Hope Cemetery

Do you have a passion for history? Enjoy meeting new people? Team player? If you answered yes to any of these questions, volunteer with the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery and join the best group of volunteers around! We have something for everyone!

Tour Guide Program: Join our tour guide program as a Tour Guide Apprentice and become a certified tour guide at Historic Mount Hope Cemetery! Tour guides are an integral part of our team. They engage the public on scheduled walking tours by sharing the history and stories of Mount Hope Cemetery’s many residents.

Reception: This is a critical job involving hospitality, registration of tour attendees, selling merchandise, answering questions, and closing after the tour events. You will meet new people, learn about the cemetery and Rochester’s history, and know that you are helping to inspire community interest in our local heritage. No experience necessary — training is provided.

Gardening Volunteer: Gardening Committee volunteers help revitalize and maintain gardens within Mount Hope Cemetery. Individuals, families, and community groups are welcome.

Cradle Grave Program: Cradle Grave Gardeners adopt a cradle grave, which they plant and care for throughout the gardening season. Cradle graves have been popular burial memorials in Mount Hope Cemetery since the cemetery was founded in 1838. They consist of a headstone (the family monument), a footstone, and two low stone walls connecting them, creating a distinct rectangle designed to hold decorative plantings to memorialize the person buried below. Long since abandoned, cradle graves are being rediscovered, repaired, adopted, and planted!

Landscaping & Grounds: Work Groups Our many landscape volunteers collaborate with the City of Rochester on projects suggested in the City’s Master Plan. Every week during all seasons, our teams are hard at work. The FOMH operates the City’s 2nd Saturday Program of volunteers, and the Friends also participate in the Annual Day of Caring.

Open Door Mission

In 2023, we distributed 549,217 pounds of food and prepared 116,337 meals for those in need. Last year, we opened a new and expanded clothing room at 20 North Plymouth, where we collected 334,568 pounds of clothing. Our Samaritan House Crisis Center kept its doors open 24 hours a day during the cold months to keep people safe from frigid temperatures. This program provided 17,304 nights of shelter to those in need. We were also able to open a separate women’s shelter that provides beds to up to 20 women nightly.   

All of our success is a result of the help of our community. There are many ways that you can continue to help us! You or your group can host a food drive, lend a hand in our kitchen, lead a prayer service for our guests, or help us serve meals. We could also use your service in our clothing room.

Rochester Accessible Adventures

Rochester Accessible Adventures (RAA) is a great place to volunteer your time. RAA is a 501(c)(3) organization with a vision of a society where recreation, sports, and tourism are fully accessible to and inclusive of people with and without disabilities. RAA is looking for people to support people living with disabilities during group Erie Canal excursions, especially on the west side of Rochester, people to table at events, and to support their inclusion partners. To get more information, please visit their website or contact Dee Mascari at dmascari@RochesterAccessibleAdventures.org.

Rochester Broadway Theater League

RBTL utilizes the generous help of friendly and reliable volunteer ushers to ensure that patrons have a positive theatre-going experience. The Rochester Broadway Theatre League also relies on dedicated volunteers to lend both special events and administrative support to the organization. The primary responsibilities of Ushers are to assist patrons with ticketed entry, guide audience members to their seats, hand out programs, and direct patrons to locations within the West Herr Auditorium Theatre, such as the restrooms, concessions, or coat check. Ushers also assist audience members in the event of an emergency. Ushers are overseen by a team of House Managers who schedule volunteers and teach proper procedures. When possible, Ushers are able to view the performance for which they are volunteering. For students needing verified volunteer hours, we are happy to help fulfill your school’s requirements. Users must be at least 16 years of age. RBTL Volunteer responsibilities vary by project and range from assisting with administrative needs to greeting guests for special events to helping students participate in educational programming.

Rochester Museum & Science Center

The involvement of hundreds of talented, committed individuals greatly extends the range, quality, and variety of our visitors’ experiences. RMSC volunteers are guided by the principles of engagement, innovation, passion, and excellence. They focus on the visitor, create a welcoming environment, and help visitors connect exhibit content with the world around them.

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

Hundreds of volunteers dedicate their time to help us in our mission to educate, inspire, and engage the community through the art of music. As a volunteer, you gain an inside look at what goes into each RPO performance while working with individuals who share a common passion for music and education. Our volunteers can play many roles in our programs, from ushers at various performances to serving as educational ambassadors to young children.

Ronald McDonald House

Whether you cook meals, clean and prepare rooms for families, help in the office, or drive our van, the time you give allows our families to be with their children during a very difficult time.

We rely on hundreds of volunteers each month to do everything from cleaning and preparing rooms and gardening and maintenance to keep our programs running for our families 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. If you are an individual looking for an ongoing opportunity or part of a group looking for a short-term project, there’s a place for you at the Ronald McDonald House!

Making a home inviting and comfortable for guests takes time and effort, and our volunteers take pride in making sure we have an environment that is welcoming for every guest.

Just a few hours is all it takes to make a difference in the lives of our families. Volunteers donate their time and energy during three- or four-hour shifts weekly, biweekly, or monthly.  Interested individuals must be friendly, responsible, and enjoy working with others. Join the Ronald McDonald House volunteer family.  If you have a talent, skill, or interest, we have a place for you or your group.

Saint’s Place

Truck and Van Crew: Help the crew with pickups of donated furniture and delivery to household setups in the mornings, Monday through Thursday. We also need help organizing the warehouse and moving boxes.

Ministry House Donation Sorting: Volunteers are needed to sort donated items, including clothing, books, linens, and kitchenware. 

Clothing Closet Donation Sorting: Volunteers sort and fold clothing at 8 Wickford Way in Fairport. We also need volunteers to work one-on-one with clients using the clothing closet to help them select clothing.

Secretarial Assistance: Help is needed at 46 South Main Street with typing correspondence and light data entry.

Tutoring: Saint’s Place offers tutoring at two locations weekly: St. Marian Cope Parish at Guardian Angels Church in Henrietta and Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. We offer tutoring for both children and adults. 

Saint’s Place Super Sale: Donate good quality items – collectibles, antiques, and jewelry: items that sell for top dollars. If you can’t attend the sale, please consider making a financial donation.

Toys for Tots

Connect with your local Marine Toys for Tots Campaign to donate and volunteer and help give the joy of Christmas to less fortunate children.

Verona Street Animal Services

Animal Services has an active volunteer program that enables community members to get involved with various aspects of the programs and services.  Volunteer duties include dog walking, pet bathing, socializing and training animals, cleaning cages, assisting with the spay-neuter clinic, providing customer service, triage and case management, data entry and analysis, administrative support, pet reunification, self-rehoming support, transportation, shelter greeters, website content management, and promoting the organization at special events. There is also a Foster Care Program for individuals interested in providing temporary homes for animals in need of special care or awaiting placement in a new home or transfer to another organization. 

Willow Domestic Violence Center

Give your time, talent, and treasure to help survivors thrive! By supporting Willow, you are making an investment in the healing journey of survivors here in our community. With your help, we are able to tell survivors: You are not alone. Survivors count on us. We count on you. From essential crisis care to trauma-informed counseling services, your generosity helps ensure our team’s ability to deliver the high-quality care every person deserves, whenever and wherever it is needed most.

More opportunities to research:

Where do you like to volunteer around Rochester?

Your insights and experiences are valuable. Please share them in the comments.

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Debi Bower is the founder and creative director of daytrippingroc.com and author of the award-winning book Day Trips Around Rochester, New York.

People often ask me if I get free access to places while exploring. The answer is no unless I’m invited to previews or granted behind-the-scenes access as part of my media role. Generally, I don’t mention my project, Day Trips Around Rochester, NY, because I want the same experience you would have. I create and share content simply because it brings me joy. I would appreciate your support—a cup of coffee or two to help fuel future field trips—if you have found valuable information here that has helped you explore the Rochester area.

We will absolutely update this list on request!

Most images courtesy of Pixabay.

8 thoughts on “28 Rochester-Area Volunteer Experiences”

  1. Rochester Accessible Adventures (RAA) is a great place to volunteer your time. RAA is a 501(c)(3) organization with a vision of a society where recreation, sports and tourism are fully accessible to and inclusive of people with and without disabilities. RAA is community based and community driven.

    They are looking for people to support people living with disabilities during group Canal excursions especially on the west side of Rochester, people to table at events, and to support their inclusion partners. To get more information go to their website or contact Dee Mascari at dmascari@RochesterAccessibleAdventures.org.

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  4. Saint’s Place. They set up homes with new beds and donated furniture for all newly arriving refugees in Rochester. They run the largest clothing closet in Rochester as well and give backpacks full of school supplies to the children. There is also a tutoring snd vocational scholarship program. Volunteers must pass a background check and complete training.

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