Centers & Meditation Groups

Buddhist Resources




Engaged Buddhism:
Volunteering in Santa Barbara, CA

Buddhism emphasizes compassion and part of living compassionately is to recognize the suffering of others and to do what we can to help alleviate it. The bodhisattva vow confirms our intention to help all sentient being, but in our everyday life, we need to start small by applying that vow to the people and situations we meet each day within our own community. Sangha members and local friends can put their aspirations into action by finding ways to work locally, both individually and collectively, to make this world a better place. There is no need to choose between meditation practice and helping others. These have both always been part of the Buddhist path which have nourished and supported each other through the ages.  By bringing our bodhisattva vow into this relative, suffering human realm, we engage with our practice in a powerful and dynamic way.

Lama Tsering of Chagdud Gonpa often said that a simple way to engage Bodhicitta or unlimited kindness was to ask yourself whenever you entered a room what you could do to help. By extension, we can think of our community, our world, as that room.

Foodbank SB County
4554 Hollister Ave.,Santa Barbara, CA 93110
(805) 967-5741
Volunteers at SB’s well established Foodbank distribute food to 3500 local nonprofits directly. One in four people in SB County receive food from the Foodbank. Volunteers help with everything from collecting and sorting donated food to teaching food literacy, cooking and gardening education programs.  See their website for details:
Volunteer Coordinator Melissa Howard:
Food From the Heart
Volunteers provides healthy meals at no charge for the homebound and those in need.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
909 North La Cumbre Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
(805) 334-5292
Transition House: Homeless Shelter for Families
Nicole Janowicz, Volunteer Coordinator (805) 966-9668 ext. 115
Individual volunteers work in almost every aspect of the Transition House program, depending on their skills and interests: they comfort babies in the Infant Care Center, read books and make art with a group of children in the Evening Enrichment Program, or tutor and supervise children while their parents are attending evening classes. Some Transition House volunteers meet the immediate needs of our families by keeping the shelter running smoothly in the evenings, making lunches, providing dinner, or lending an ear as a Shelter Manager or Screener.Volunteers also provide vital backup support by helping with fundraising and administrative tasks.

Civic and Faith-Based Groups provide other services from providing dinner, lunches, bringing baked books to overseeing outings for children.  
Casa Esperanze Homless Center and Community Kitchen
Wide range of volunteer opportunities for individual and groups.


SB Public Schools – Partners in Education: 
4400 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93160
805 964 4711
 Teachers in all of our public schools are looking for volunteers to help them with many different tasks in the classroom. If you enjoy working with children, this is a great opportunity. Volunteers for tutoring, classroom aides, and others are needed. A special benefit is that Partners in Education will pay for the TB test and LifeScan schools require of volunteers.
SB Library
Local libraries have many opportunities for volunteering from shelving and sorting books to helping with the children’s library to processing audio/visual materials plus many other ways which are listed on their website:
Pilar Montes
Volunteer Coordinator
SB Central Library, 2nd
floor Reference Desk
Adult Literacy:
Train to teach someone to read through the Adult Literacy Program at the Santa Barbara Library. 
(805) 564-5634
Art Without Limits 
Assisting with art mentorship programs and administration. 

Organized by Create The Good 
816 Chelham Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 
Contact:, Julie McLeod, 805-565-1332 

Art Without Limits creates one on one mentorships with talented, trained artists that want to learn the skills of how to become a successful professional in any of the arts. Some work can be done at home. Organizational and computer skills are important. 

 Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network 
(SBWCN) is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that rescues and rehabilitates injured wild birds, mammals, and reptiles in Santa Barbara County.
Staff and volunteers currently help approximately 4000 native animals each year.
1460 Fairview Ave
Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 681-1080

SB Humane Society 
Volunteers to visit  with dogs or cats several times a month.
City Parks
Volunteer jobs involve horticulture, native habitat restoration, gardening, rose and tree pruning, pond maintenance, planter refurbishing, and weeding. Parks needing volunteers include Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, Franceschi Park & Chases Palm Park. 


Goleta Valley & Santa Barbara Cottage Hospitals
Volunteer opportunities cover a wide range of possibilities including patient care, greeters, emergency room, sewing teddy bears, rehabilitation care , aquatic therapy, clerical, end of life care, gift shop, lab,  and many more. See:

Cottage Health System Volunteer Office. Call 805-569-7357 or email
 Hospice of Santa Barbara 
All Patient Care Volunteers are required to complete a comprehensive training which includes an initial 6 week course and ongoing education and training. After that, there are a number of different ways in which you can help the dying:

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care
Trained volunteers can participate in Direct Patient Home Care; Serenity House; perform clerical & special event duties; pet therapy; flower delivery from Farmer’s Market; music therapy; loan closet for equipment such as wheelchairs, canes & walkers (minimal training require). 
NODA –No One Dies Alone
This is a collaborative effort between VNHC, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Cottage Hospital and several local residential facilities. This program offers an opportunity for volunteers to do “on call” work. Volunteers must go through the Cottage Hospital volunteer orientation as well as our volunteer training. Following the trainings, the volunteer is placed on a list and may be called to sit at the bedside of a chronically or terminally ill patient when there are no family or friends available. Its purpose is to bring comfort and compassion to those in the last 48 to 72 hours of life.  Active patient care volunteers are eligible to be part of this program in addition to their regular assignments. 
Cottage Health System Volunteer Office. Call 805-569-7357 or email

 Braille Institute
2031 De La Vina St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105-3895
(805) 687-0472
There are many opportunities for helping the blind and seeing impaired through the Braille Institute by serving as instructor, classroom assistants, tech center volunteer, support group facilitator and in various other ways. See their website for all of the different opportunities/


 RSVP Santa Barbara: 
Matches senior volunteers to non-profits
(805) 963-0474
Family Services Agency 
123 W. Gutierrez
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 922-1236
Provides a wide range of volunteer opportunities in a range of programs including Long Term Care Ombudsman of Santa Barbara and the Big Sister, Big Brother Mentoring programs.
United Way of Santa Barbara:
United Way of Santa Barbara County has a wide range of volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups, agencies, and corporations. Whether you are an individual looking for a one-time or long-term opportunity, a corporate partner seeking additional ways to get involved, or you have a special skill you'd like to share, United Way of Santa Barbara County has an outlet for you to volunteer.

Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County
6860 Cortona Dr, Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 692-2226
Volunteers assist ReStore employees. Tasks include sorting, pricing and cleaning donated items, performing small repairs, pricing and shelving new inventory, loading and unloading vehicles, assisting customers in making purchases, and helping with donation pick-ups.
Construction/repair volunteers join with skilled professionals and no prior experience is necessary. 

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