A few weeks ago, a neighbor wanting to volunteer in their neighborhood made a post on Montavilla Neighborhood Community, a Facebook Group page, asking for input.

The response was incredible.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the tragedy and negativity spotlighted in the news, but there is so much good work being done in Montavilla and beyond that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

I was encouraged to compile this list of volunteer opportunities by neighbor Amy Reaney, and since one of the goals of Village Portland is to encourage civic engagement, I thought it was a great idea.

Much of this list is based on that post, along with a few other groups I knew about. Please let met know if there are other groups you think should be included. There’s not rhyme or reason to the order of these organizations.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved in 2019, I hope you can find an organization that fits your skills and interest.

Rahab’s Sisters

“Rahab’s Sisters creates community through radical hospitality with those marginalized by poverty, houselessness, sex work, violence or substance use.”

Every Friday they offer a meal and supplies “to anyone who identifies as a woman, or whose gender identity makes them vulnerable.”

If you’d like to learn more about their work and or get involved, fill out their form here.

Join PDX

JOIN offers basic services to homeless people “in a welcoming, low barrier setting”. They need volunteers to commit to a weekly two-to-three-hour shift to help staff their day space. JOIN is open from 10 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday.

Portland Public Schools

To volunteer with PPS, you have to pass a background test, review the mandatory Child Abuse & Adult Sexual Misconduct Volunteer Training, and sign a confidentiality form. Then you can contact school leadership. Start here.

You can also work with an organization already working in schools. School leaders are also open to ideas for new programs. For example, my plan to develop a media education / journalism training was well received.

Oregon Parent Teacher Association

Composed of parents, teachers, and staff, the purpose of this organization is to “serve the needs and desires of its members in promoting the health, welfare, safety and education of children and youth”.

Get involved here.

Multnomah County Library

Every library hosts events and ways to get involved in the community.

You can serve by helping both youth and adults improve their reading skills, neighbors to improve their English skills, as well as shelving and checking in materials, assisting in computer labs and helping with outreach.

Here‘s a list of current opportunities.

Montavilla Emergency Warming Shelter

During winter’s coldest days, Portland simply doesn’t have the shelter capacity for all of the folks living outside. Hosted at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church (SE Ash & 82nd), this volunteer-run shelter is an amazing neighborhood effort.

Montavilla Neighborhood Association

The MNA meets monthly, and with presentations on everything from grassroots initiatives to development projects, it is a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the neighborhood. The organization also hosts community events and weighs in on City policy on behalf of its members.

Neighbors can volunteer by sitting on board or on a committee, helping out with current initiatives, or proposing projects of their own. Watch this video for the highlights of MNA’s achievements from last year.

Montavilla Initiative

This organization advocates for a safer and more livable neighborhood.

Read about controversy surrounding the organization and members ‘responses to criticism here.

Montavilla East Tabor Business Association

The goal of this organization is to create a strong local community by hosting local events for entertainment and networking, promoting local businesses, and recruiting new businesses to fill gaps in needed goods and services in the area.

METBA is run by a volunteer board and is comprised of about 100 businesses. Visit their website for more information on their events and how to get involved.

Montavilla Food Coop

The board and members of the Montavilla Food Co-op are working to bring a member-run grocery store to the neighborhood. There are several ways to participate, and, specifically, they need help with social media, volunteer coordination, and community outreach. Learn more and fill out a survey here get involved.

Friends of Mt. Tabor

Mt. Tabor is a wonderfully unique park, with multiple opportunities for service. Friends of Mt. Tabor organize the Mt. Tabor Weed Warriors to tackle invasive species, staffing of the visitors center, and conducting foot patrols of the park.

You can also become a member of the group, sponsor a bench, or partner with the organization.

Weed Warriors meet once monthly from April through September to “remove invasive plant species and restore native habitat to Mt. Tabor Park.” 

Volunteers at the visitors center greet guests, hand out maps, answer questions, and give out dog biscuits.

Friends of Mt. Tabor’s periodic foot patrols “observe park activity and conditions; record and report theft, vandalism, graffiti, and improperly secured facilities; manage lost and/or found items, provide first aid, assist lost or disoriented individuals, and pick up litter while on patrol.” An orientation is required before participation.

PDX Soapbox Car Derby

One day every summer, Mt. Tabor attracts dozens of DIY soap box cars builders for an annual race down the extinct volcano.

The event attracts thousands of visitors and hundreds of volunteers are need to make the event happen. The event also has a year-round board that meets monthly.

Learn more about the participants and community effort to make the derby happen in our video from 2018:

Mainspring Portland

Mainspring is a community food, clothing, and resources pantry located near 82nd Ave and Freemont St. They accept donations, and need volunteers to do a variety of tasks including: greeting participants, organizing donations, picking up supplies, determine the need of participants, and more.

Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church

This church is a great example of a community of believers using their time, energy, and meeting space to serve their community. They host multiple events and organizations including Rahab’s Sisters and Multnomah County Needle Exchange.

I imagine many of the churches in the area are doing good work and providing charity, and would love to know about their work as well.

Portland Animal Welfare Team

This organization provides free veterinary care to the pets of people who are homeless or living in extreme poverty.

Located near 82nd Ave and Halsey St, this organization needs volunteer veterinarians, as well as veterinarian assistants, and non-medical help.

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon

APANO is a statewide, grassroots organization, “uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice.” Fill out a form here to start the process of getting involved.

APANO’s projects include community organizing, supporting the arts and culture, leadership development, and small business development. The group has also been instrumental in the establishment and development of the Jade District.

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

IRCO has a long list of opportunities for volunteering including: photography, multiple tutoring positions, mentoring, and event organizing.

Habitat for Humanity / ReStore

With this organiation, you can volunteer by helping build housing for the less fortunate, helping in their offices, or taking a shift at a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Located near Mall 205, the ReStore sells salvaged material from homes to fund their work. Start here.

Meals on Wheels People

This organization serves hot, nutritious meals at dozens of dining centers throughout the Portland area including a serving at East Portland Community Center (740 SE 106th Ave). Meals on Wheels delivers to home-bound seniors. 

Both services need volunteers to support their organization and deliver meals. Here’s an overview of their programs featuring an adorable father and son who volunteer together:

TriMet Ride Connection

Like their website says: Transportation is an essential human need.

Ride Connection volunteers helps folks get where they need to go. You can use your own vehicle to help or use one of theirs. Visit their website to learn how to get involved.

Montavilla Jazz Festival

Hosted in August, this two-day festival’s mission is to bolster the local jazz community. Organizers need help with their fundraiser as well as tabling at other events.