Ok, so after all that philosophical reflection on volunteering, here are some concrete volunteer (and philanthropic) opportunities in the Bay Area:
Through the power of storytelling, Streetside Stories values and cultivates young people's voices, fostering educational equity and building community, literacy and arts skills. Streetside always need volunteers during the school year to help SFUSD middle school students to write autobiographical stories in their Storytelling Exchange Program and after school programs and to create digital stories in their Tech Tales program.
Urban Sprouts is a school garden program that teaches SFUSD youth to grow, harvest, prepare and eat vegetables from the school garden, in order to help them become more engaged in school, eat better, exercise more, and connect with the environment and each other. They need volunteers to work one on one with students during class, help plan and staff events and do special projects (like design and build a tool shed and worm box).
People's Grocery is a community-based organization working to find creative solutions to the food needs of the residents of West Oakland by building a local food system and local economy. They also need volunteers to work in their community gardens.
Kick Start promotes sustainable economic growth and employment creation in Kenya and other countries by developing and promoting technologies that can be used by dynamic entrepreneurs to establish and run profitable small scale enterprises. Right now they need volunteers to help them with filing and database work in their San Francisco office.
One Brick is a non-profit volunteer organization that brings volunteers together to support other local non-profit organizations and creates a friendly and social atmosphere around volunteering, and after each volunteer event -- which typically lasts only 3 to 4 hours. They invite volunteers to gather at a local restaurant or café where they can get to know one another in a relaxed social setting. They have branches in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
Contact: Check out each city's Web page link above for contact information.
SAALT (South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow) will be having their annual Be the Change day, Formerly known as the National Gandhi Day of Service, on October 1, 2005. They will have service opportunities in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York City, Edison, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Palo Alto and San Francisco.
Contact: Check out Web site link above to register in your city.
Hands On Bay Area also organizes group volunteer projects and Saturday, October 15th is their Hands on Bay Area Day when they have many group volunteer projects happening at once.
Contact: Check out the Web site link above for different program's contact information.
September 24th the band Crowsong will be hosting a benefit for The Tibetan Children's Fund at the Noe Valley Ministry (1021 Sanchez in San Francisco) at 8 PM. The Tibetan Children's Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives and preserving the culture of exiled Tibetan refugees in India, Nepal and Bhutan. The proceeds from the entire evening will provide hepatitis vaccines for the entire student body of Kalimpong.
I did end up watching The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Jeffrey Sachs in Africa and was amazed at the difference an anti-malarial bednet ($10), school lunch ($25), rechargeable lantern ($50) could make. You can donate money for one or more of those things through Millennium Promise.
Finally here are some grassroots organizations I've come across that seem like they will be providing aid to the people in Louisiana who need it the most:
Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children
Send a check to the
FFLIC Hurricane Relief Fund
920 Platt Street
Sulphur, Louisiana, 70663.
For more information: Email them at all four addresses due to tech challenges: firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Partners Justice Fund
Southern Partners Fund is a public foundation created to serve Southern Communities and organizations seeking social, economic, and environmental justice by providing them with financial resources, technical assistance and training, and access to systems of information and power.
Twenty-First Century Foundation
The mission of The Twenty-First Century Foundation (21CF) is to advance strategic black philanthropy.
BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund
The funds raised by the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund will go to individual
families who have opened their homes to families displaced by Hurricane Katrina,
to supplement their personal households as the recovery efforts continue.
I found most of these links through The Praxis Project.