Volunteer

  • How to Get Started
  • Volunteer Interest Form
  • Office Volunteers
  • Food Pantry Volunteers
  • Host a Food Drive
  • Back to School Program
  • Thanksgiving Baskets
  • Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays
  • Prepare a Home
  • Volunteer FAQ

How to Get Started

Families Forward relies on community volunteers to expand our reach and serve more vulnerable families. Last year more than 2,000 volunteers contributed approximately 21,000 hours of service. Your time will help change the life of a family in need.

Who can volunteer?

  • Almost anyone can volunteer at Families Forward! We welcome individuals, families, student groups, faith groups, community groups, corporate groups, and others.
  • For safety reasons, the minimum age for on-site volunteering at the Families Forward Program Center is 10 years old. There are other ways which younger volunteers can contribute with projects at home, school, or in the community. Call us to find the best fit for you and your children.

When do you need volunteers?

  • Most volunteer opportunities take place during regular business hours (Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Friday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm). Although there are occasional weekend and evening volunteer opportunities, especially during the holiday season.
  • We have four main types of volunteer opportunities:
    • Weekly volunteers in assigned positions in areas such as the front desk, food pantry, or computer lab.
    • Seasonal volunteers for our annual service programs such as Back-to-School Program, Thanksgiving Baskets, and Adopt-a-Family.
    • Special event volunteers for activities like the Families Forward Community-Wide Food Drives, Community Resource Fair, and Annual Gala.
    • Special project volunteers for various activities such as food drives, toy drives, preparing homes for new families, and house maintenance projects.
    • Click here for an informational flyer about our four main types of volunteer opportunities.

How do I get started?

  • If you are interested in volunteering, please complete our online Volunteer Interest Form. After reviewing your form, we will contact you to discuss our volunteer opportunities and invite you to attend our next New Volunteer Orientation. Orientations take place monthly based on new volunteer interest.

What if I still have questions?

  • Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tab or contact our Volunteer Manager at (949) 716-2731.
Complete the Volunteer Interest Form to Get Started

Volunteer Interest Form

Please fill out this form as completely as possible.

  • Please select areas of interest. You may select more than one.
  • Please list any languages you speak (besides English) and include your fluency level.

Office Volunteers

Front Desk Volunteer

Help change lives! Front Desk volunteers serve as the first point of contact for families and individuals looking for assistance. Volunteers help enroll clients in programs, give out resources, share information about Families Forward, and much more! Good communication skills, a strong desire to help others, patience, and excellent judgment are required.

Volunteers in this position must be at least 18 years old, attend mandatory training, and commit to a minimum three months of service. Volunteers typically work once a week for a 2-3 hour shift. Available shifts are Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Friday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Office volunteers at Families Forward Office volunteers at Families Forward

Bilingual Office Volunteers

Bilingual volunteers are needed to help translate for clients. Currently, our most needed languages are Spanish and Farsi. Bilingual volunteers can help regularly at our front desk or as needed for client phone calls or special projects.

Data Entry

Data entry volunteers are needed to assist the Operations Department with entering client information into our client database. This position is perfect for someone who is detail-oriented, reliable and enjoys data entry. Hours are flexible Monday-Thursday between 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. A minimum commitment of 3 hours per week is preferred.

Administrative Assistance

Volunteers who possess strong administrative skills and Microsoft Word proficiency are needed for administrative assistance at Families Forward. Administrative volunteers will assist our Program team with preparation for workshops, meetings, and general administrative tasks. Volunteers typically work 3-hour shifts once a week.

Computer Lab Assistance

Volunteers greet clients and assist them in their job search needs, as well as offer assistance with online job application. You are the first contact person for clients seeking technical help with basic computer related issues such as log-on issues. Volunteers typically work once a week for a 2-3 hour shift. Available shifts are Monday – Thursday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Office volunteers at Families Forward

Some of the amazing Families Forward Volunteers gathered at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

Complete the Volunteer Interest Form to Get Started

Food Pantry Volunteers

Approximately 6000 individuals receive food each year through Families Forwards Food Pantry

Food Pantry Stocking and Distribution

Help us prepare food bags and distribute food to local families in need. Volunteers have a great time sorting food, stocking the pantry shelves, and greeting families who come in for food supplies each month. This important work is done in a caring, casual, and fun environment.

Working in the Food Pantry is also a great team building experience! This opportunity is perfect for groups of 10-15 people for a 2-3 hour shift. Please contact our Volunteer Manager at (949) 716-2731 to schedule a group volunteer opportunity based on availability.

Available times: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, between the hours of 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Drivers – Food Pantry Donation Pick Up

Drivers are needed to pick-up food donations from food banks, local restaurants, and grocery stores. These fresh food donations are a healthy addition to the standard nonperishable food items. Pick ups typically take place in the morning, but scheduling varies Monday through Thursday.

Community-Wide Food Drive

Families need food all year long – but often, our food donations dwindle and our pantry shelves can be nearly empty during the summer months. To prepare for these slower times, Families Forward partners with local grocery stores and community groups for one weekend in the Spring, Summer, and Fall to collect food donations to be able to serve hungry families every month of the year.

Our upcoming Summer Community-Wide Food Drive will be held on Saturday, July 15th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Volunteer groups are needed at grocery stores to invite shoppers to purchase additional food items, and to bring collected food donations back to our Food Pantry to be sorted. This is a fun-filled opportunity that is great for friends, clubs, and families with young children, as you can volunteer together for a great cause!

If you are interested in participating in the Summer Community-Wide Food Drive please contact our AmeriCorps Fellow, Janette Perez, at jperez@families-forward.org.

Join the Harvest Club – Share the Bounty!

Do you grow more food in your backyard gardens than you can possibly use? If so, share your leftover fruits and vegetables with a neighbor in need! Families Forward partners with The Harvest Club, a program of the OC Food Access Coalition, to prevent leftover produce from being wasted and instead, make it available to the hungry.

To register your garden, please visit theharvestclub.org or call (714) 564-9525. Be sure to mention that you want your harvest to come to the Families Forward Food Pantry!

The Harvest Club also needs volunteers to harvest produce on a weekly basis. Volunteers from Families Forward can designate that their produce come back to our Food Pantry.

Complete the Volunteer Interest Form to Get Started

Host a Food Drive

We couldn’t possibly serve as many families as we do without the generosity of the local community. Every person who participates in one of our Food Drives helps to ensure hungry children can look forward to a meal. Please contact us at fooddrives@families-forward.org for more information or call (949) 379-8135.

Food Pantry volunteers at Families Forward

Neighborhood Food Drives

Your family or children can organize a neighborhood food drive to help feed local families. It’s simple! Families Forward will provide a letter explaining why you are collecting food and a flyer listing our most needed food items. Then, you arrange a time to collect food donations from your neighbors and drive them over to our Food Pantry. We would be happy to give your family a tour when you drop off your donation.

Hosted Food Drives at Businesses, Schools, and Faith Organizations

We make hosting a food drive easy! Select a convenient time-frame for your drive, collect needed non-perishable food items, and drop your donations off at our Food Pantry. If you are hosting a larger food drive, you can arrange to have collection barrels dropped off and picked up from your location by completing this form

The Food Pantry depends entirely on volunteers and food donations.

Community-Wide Food Drives

Families need food all year long but often, during the year, our food donations dwindle and our pantry shelves can be nearly empty. To prepare for these slower times, Families Forward partners with local grocery stores and community groups for one weekend in the Spring, Summer, and Fall to collect food donations to be able to serve hungry families every month of the year.

Volunteer groups are needed at the grocery stores to invite shoppers to purchase additional food items and to bring all collected food donations back to the Food Pantry. Volunteers are also needed to help unload cars and stock our shelves in our Food Pantry.

Host a Donation Drive

Back to School Program

At the beginning of each school year, Families Forward distributes backpacks filled with new school supplies to over 1,000 school-age children in our community. Children also receive new and gently-used clothing to start the new school year.

Volunteers are needed each July and August to sort school supplies and clothing donations, fill backpacks, and distribute backpacks to the families. All opportunities take place during our regular business hours. Contact our Volunteer Manager at (949) 716-2731 to learn more about this opportunity.

Families Forward Back to School Program

Host a Back-to-School Supply Drive

Sign up to host a school supplies drive! For larger drives, we are happy to drop off collection barrels to use for the duration of your drive and pick them up when your drive is complete.

Complete the Volunteer Interest Form to Get Started

Thanksgiving Baskets

The holidays are the busiest time of year for volunteering at Families Forward. Each year, nearly 900 families receive Thanksgiving Baskets. We couldn’t possibly serve all of these families without volunteer support!

Thank you for your interest in volunteering! Our 2016 Thanksgiving Basket Program has ended, and we thank you for your support!

How to volunteer to help with Thanksgiving Baskets

Please fill out our online Thanksgiving Basket Volunteer Interest Form. These opportunities are perfect for individuals, families, and groups. Volunteer sign-ups start the first week of October and will remain open until all spots are filled. These volunteer opportunities are very popular and limited space is available! For safety reasons, on-site volunteers must be at least 10 years of age. To accommodate as many groups as possible, group sizes will be limited to 10 volunteers per group.

Please contact thanksgiving@families-forward.org for more information.

Thanksgiving Food Drives

In the Thanksgiving Baskets, Families Forward provides local families with all the ingredients needed to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Community members can support us by hosting a Thanksgiving Food Drive. Delivery and pick-up of food barrels are available for larger food drives by completing this form.

Thanksgiving Preparations

Help organize food donations for our big distribution day. Volunteers are needed during the two weeks leading up to our Thanksgiving Basket distribution. Most preparations occur during our regular business hours with some limited evening opportunities.

Thanksgiving Basket Distribution

Help distribute food baskets to families! Thanksgiving Basket distribution takes place the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. Volunteers help by filling food baskets, loading groceries into families’ cars, hosting activities for the children, and much more!

Week of Thanksgiving – Food Pantry

Help us get reorganized after our Thanksgiving Basket distribution event! Volunteers will help reorganize our Food Pantry and continue to sort food donations and distribute additional Thanksgiving Baskets on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Families Forward is closed on Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Client Notification – Bilingual Volunteers

Bilingual volunteers are needed to help contact clients and let them know when to pick up their Thanksgiving Baskets. Our most needed language is Spanish.

Thanksgiving Distribution Families Forward Thanksgiving Distribution Families Forward Thanksgiving Distribution Families Forward Thanksgiving Distribution Families Forward

Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for volunteering at Families Forward. Each year, over 800 families are adopted through our Adopt-a-Family program, bringing joy to more than 2,000 children with special gifts for the holidays. We couldn’t possibly serve all of these families without volunteer support!

Thank you for your interest in volunteering! Our 2016 Adopt-a-Family Program has ended, and we thank you for your support!

How to volunteer to help with Adopt-a-Family

To volunteer in the Adopt-a-Family program, please fill out our Holiday Volunteer Interest Form – or contact holidays@families-forward.org for more information.

Prepare Gift Bags

Volunteers help organize gift donations and prepare the holiday gift bags for pickup by families. Most opportunities take place during our regular business hours with limited evening and weekend opportunities. This opportunity is appropriate for groups of up to 10 people. Because this task is very detail-oriented, we ask that volunteers be at least 14 years of age with an adult.

Distribute Gift Bags to Families

Help distribute gift bags to families picking up at our Program Center. This is a very rewarding experience! Most opportunities take place during our regular business hours with limited evening and weekend opportunities. This opportunity is appropriate for individuals, families, and small groups of 2-4 people.

Client Notification – Bilingual Volunteers

Bilingual volunteers are needed to help contact clients and let them know when to pick up their holiday gifts from the Adopt-a-Family program. Our most needed language is Spanish.

Adopt a Local Family

Donors can sign up to adopt a specific family through our Adopt-a-Family Donor Sign-Up Form to provide holiday gifts to the children and their parents. Family wish lists will be sent to donors in mid-November and gifts are due at Families Forward during the first week in December. We cannot guarantee that gifts received after December 16th will go out to families in time for the holidays.

Host a Toy Drive

Help Families Forward fill additional gift bags for families who were not specifically adopted by local donors. Delivery and pick-up of barrels are available with larger toy drives.

Submit this form to schedule your donation drive, and click here for our list of gift items most commonly given out through this program. Please note that as teens are our most under-served population, teen gifts are especially needed.

Adopt-a-Family Families Forward Adopt-a-Family Families Forward

Prepare a Home

Prepare a Home for a Family

New families who enter our Housing Program are just beginning their journey out of homelessness and toward a sustainable future. Regular and independent volunteer groups are needed to help prepare Families Forward’s homes for each new family.

This opportunity is perfect for groups of 4-8 people who are interested in taking a leadership role in managing the housing preparations as new families are ready to move in. Groups will be trained on how to prepare the homes and then will be called on an as-needed basis to turn the home into a safe and welcoming place for new families. Please contact our Housing Resource Specialist at (949) 379-8134 for more information.

Laundry

Volunteers are needed to help launder linens on an as-needed basis. These linens consist of bedding donations that we receive as well as the linens that we need to clean for families who are joining our Housing Program.

Families Forward will drop off and pick up loads of laundry to volunteers’ homes in our service area (Irvine and surrounding cities). Please contact our Housing Resource Specialist at (949) 379-8134 for more information.

Periodic Home Maintenance

Volunteers who are skilled at interior painting would go on an as-needed basis to our interim homes and work independently in the home to paint interior walls and hallways. Families Forward supplies the paint and supplies unless the volunteer is willing to donate both the materials and his/her services, and the volunteer is responsible for setting up/preparation, painting, and cleaning up.

Skilled Professionals for Home Repairs

Families Forward owns homes where families in crisis can live as they receive necessary services to get back on their feet. Occasionally, maintenance issues arise and we have a need for services from skilled professionals. In particular, we are looking for electricians, plumbers, contractors, and appliance repairmen who would be willing to donate their services. Please call us at (949) 716-2731 to learn more about this opportunity.

Warehouse Management

Volunteers organize and manage our donated household items and sort linens and other household essentials so they can be used in our homes.

Prepare a Home Families Forward Prepare a Home Families Forward

Volunteer FAQ

1. I would like to be a volunteer at Families Forward. What do I have to do to get started?

Please fill out an online Volunteer Interest Form. After reviewing your form, we will invite you to attend a New Volunteer Orientation. All volunteers will need to complete the Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability Form prior to their first volunteer activity.

2. Can I just show up?

No. Families Forward values the time of all of our volunteers and wishes to ensure a positive volunteer experience for every individual. We prefer to schedule your volunteer opportunity in advance so we can guarantee work for you and have someone available to orient you to your specific task. Please contact our Volunteer Manager at (949) 716-2731 to schedule time for volunteering or if you have immediate questions regarding volunteer opportunities.

3. What ongoing volunteer opportunities are most available?

Typical volunteer jobs may include:

    • Office Assistance
    • Food Pantry Volunteer
    • Food Pantry Driver
    • Bilingual English-Spanish Volunteer

Families Forward also has a great need for volunteers during the holiday season and for special events throughout the year.

4. How often do New Volunteer Orientations occur?

New Volunteer Orientations take place once or twice per month, based on new volunteer interest, typically on Thursdays at 3:30 pm.

5. When can I volunteer?

Most volunteer opportunities occur on weekdays during our regular business hours (Monday- Thursday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm). Evening and weekend opportunities are available occasionally during the holiday season. Families Forward will happily accommodate your schedule to the best of our ability.

6. As a volunteer, will I get to work directly with client families?

Because of our confidentiality policies, volunteers and interns will have minimal contact with clients. Interactions may include greeting them at the Front Desk or in the Food Pantry and speaking with them over the phone.

7. Are there any age requirements for volunteering?

For safety reasons, the minimum age for volunteering for most opportunities is 10 years old. Volunteers ages 10-13 must come with parental supervision. Volunteers age 14 and older may come without a parent. Volunteers age 10-17 must have their own Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability Form signed by their parent.

8. My children are younger than 10 years old. How can they help?

There are many ways in which younger volunteers can help Families Forward, though for safety reasons, these opportunities are typically not on-site. We would be happy to talk with you to find the best fit for your children. Additionally, younger youth groups are welcome to schedule a tour of our Program Center to learn more about our programs.

9. How do I sign up to volunteer for the holiday programs?

Families Forward greatly relies on volunteer support during the holiday season. The holidays are the most popular time of year for volunteering. To ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to express interest, we will place our Thanksgiving and Holiday Volunteer Interest forms on our website in October.

10. Does Families Forward offer an internship program?

Yes, we offer unpaid internships to students and we will accommodate your university’s internship requirements. Internships are offered through specific departments (Program, Operations, Fund Development, and Accounting). All interns will also have opportunities to experience the breadth of our organization. Please contact our Volunteer Manager at (949) 716-2731 for more information about internships or email internship@families-forward.org.

11. Does working at Families Forward satisfy my required community service hours?

Yes, Families Forward will accommodate community service hour requests to the best of our ability. Please note that we cannot always accommodate these requests, depending on the timeframe required and the amount of hours needed. Please contact our Volunteer Manager at (949) 716-2731 for more information. If community service is court-ordered, volunteers must be referred through OneOC. Please call OneOC at (714) 953-5757.