Nothing feels better than giving back. From scooping pasta onto plates at a soup kitchen to planting trees with school children, helping the community is a job that never ends – but the rewards are endless.
Whether it’s for a graduation requirement, induction into the National Honors Society or because they have some spare time on the weekends, your teen may need to volunteer at some point. Having your teen volunteer is a great way to let them get a taste of independence and responsibility in a safe environment.
To help your teens get active in the community, here are some local organizations that readily accept help from teen volunteers.
Note: Listed below are the hours of operation for each organization. Be sure to check online or call ahead to confirm volunteer shift availability.
- Address: 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-995-5439
- Hours: vary based on position
The AAHOM has multiple options for volunteers over the age of 14. Volunteering jobs available for teens include docent, activities facilitator and activities facilitator lead. Duties for each job vary, but they generally include running hands-on activities for special events and school groups, facilitating exhibits and interacting with visitors. All volunteer jobs require some form of training.
- Address: Store: 16135 Harper Ave., Detroit; Warehouse: 16236 Harper Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-640-4411
- Hours: Store: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; closed Wednesday, Friday and Sunday-Monday
Arts & Scraps recycles hundreds of pounds of materials through fun and interactive activities with children and families. Teens can volunteer at either the store or the warehouse. At the store, teens can drop by any day to help sort and stock materials and organize displays. The minimum age requirement to volunteer in the store is 18, however high school students ages 16-17 are also accepted. At the warehouse, teens can organize a group to pack kits on the assembly line. The minimum age to volunteer in the warehouse is 10; parents are asked to accompany their children until age 14.
- Address: 1264 Meldrum St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-579-2100
- Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday
To volunteer here, this organization asks you to bring three things: a willingness to work hard, an open and positive attitude and a smile. Capuchin offers a multitude of services including a meal program that offers nutritious meals to hundreds of people each day, a substance abuse program and a distribution site for emergency food and clothing. Teen volunteers can serve meals, assist in the kitchens, prepare emergency food packages and sort clothing. Unsupervised minors must present a signed permission form that is available online.
- Address: 11850 Woodrow Wilson St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-883-2277
- Hours: vary based on shift
This Detroit-based nonprofit provides assistive programs for food, health, housing and jobs and is always accepting volunteers. Whether you can stay for one hour or overnight, Cass Community Services depends on volunteers to help those in need in the community. The organization welcomes all adult, teen and child (ages 10 and up) volunteers.
- Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
- Phone: 248-541-5717
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday
The Detroit Zoo has three different programs for teen volunteers. The first is the “Volunteen” Zoo Corps Program in which teens (ages 14-17) can work with a team from the education department and work on their communication skills while gaining leadership skills. The second is the Summer Safari Camp Counselor-in-Training Program, where teens (ages 16 and 17) guide youth groups on tours of the zoo, supervise craft projects and interact with guests. The third is the Nature Camp Counselor-in-Training where teens are expected to help camp groups with nature immersion, games and activities throughout the camp at the Belle Isle Nature Center. Application forms are available online.
- Address: Detroit: 2131 Beaufait St., Pontiac: 120 E. Columbia Ave., Warren: 24162 Mound Road
- Phone: Warren and Detroit: 313-923-3535; Pontiac: 866-453-2637, ext. 403
- Hours: Detroit: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday; Pontiac: 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday; Warren: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday
Gleaners has countless opportunities for volunteers. Teens can help out at the distribution centers by sorting nonperishable food and fresh produce. Gleaners also offers other programs and events that they need volunteers for including Kids Helping Kids, Empty Bowls and Gleaners’ Gardens.
- Address: Headquarters: 1418 Michigan Ave., Detroit; workforce department: 13000 W. McNichols Road, Detroit
- Phone: 313-237-8733
- Hours: vary based on season and activity
Since 1989, Greening of Detroit has been dedicated to beautifying the city of Detroit one tree at a time. Volunteer opportunities are dependent on season and are posted online as they become available. The organization has tree-planting season in spring, April-June, and in fall, October-November. In summer, June-September, teens can volunteer in small groups of less than 15 in the Lafayette Greens Garden where they can plant flowers and vegetables, water plants and clean up. Groups must be prearranged. Teens under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Address: 922 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
- Phone: 734-786-8401
- Hours: vary based on events, season and program; check online before stopping by (generally open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday)
Growing Hope has multiple opportunities for teens to get involved. During the school year, teens can help with the organization’s Seed2Plate after-school clubs that provide gardening and healthy eating education for Ypsilanti school students. During the summer, teens can apply to become paid Teen Mentors and work at the urban farm and assist with educational programs at the Growing Hope Center. There are multiple requirements for Teen Mentors, including that they must be 15-18 years old, have a work permit, permission from a parent/guardian and transportation to and from work. Check online for complete list of requirements and application.
- Address: This organization is a foster-based rescue, so it does not have an office location
- Phone: 313-645-4399
- Hours: vary based on event
Home FurEver is a no-kill dog rescue that has been saving dogs from the streets of Detroit since 2003. Volunteers can set up crates, unload and walk dogs and interact with the public by explaining the adoption process at Home FurEver’s adoption events that are held at various pet stores. Volunteers must be 16 or older, able to lift 25 pounds, have a parent’s permission, work with dogs and provide their own transportation to events. The volunteer calendar is available online.
- Address: 180 N. Saginaw St., Pontiac
- Phone: 248-243-7144
- Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; closed Saturday-Sunday
Humble Design helps families coming out of shelters by using gently-used household goods to transform their homes. Although 18 is the required age to volunteer with the design team, there are volunteering opportunities for teens. Teens ages 16 and older can volunteer – with a parent’s permission – in the warehouse. In the warehouse, teens can organize incoming packages by unpacking, folding bedding and sorting other household goods.
- Address: 4100 Clark Road, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-995-5444
- Hours: Shifts available 6-8 p.m. Sunday-Friday; volunteers encouraged to come at least two hours/week
SafeHouse works to provide a safe and supportive environment for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse and their children. While 18 is the minimum age requirement to volunteer in SafeHouse, teen volunteers – ages 13-18 – can take part in the Teen Voice program. Teens can become social activists by participating in this peer education program on teen dating violence and sexual assault. All volunteers are required to complete 20 hours of training. Information on training is available online.